The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control said on Tuesday that using calcium carbine to artificially ripen fruit can harm key organs.
Artificial ripening is the process of controlling ripening (sometimes using chemical agents) to obtain desirable qualities for better consumer acceptance and sales.
It is usually done for climacteric fruits like mango, papaya, and banana to achieve faster and more uniform ripening.
Prof. Christianah Adeyeye, Director General of NAFDAC, has cautioned that eating ‘fake fruit’ might cause cancer, heart and kidney failure, and even death.
Adeyeye gave the warning at the flag–off of the North-West zonal Sensitization Workshop on the dangers of drug hawking and ripening of fruits with calcium carbide, organized by the agency for the Association of Nigeria Health Journalists held in Kaduna on Tuesday.
Participants were drawn from the North-west states of Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Jigawa, Kebbi, Sokoto and Zamfara.
Adeyeye, who was represented at the event by NAFDAC’s Director of Chemical Evaluation and Research, Dr. Leonard Omokpariola, noted that the process of artificial ripening of fruits, using calcium carbide was illegal and must stop henceforth.
According to her, the ripening of fruits with carbides is another public challenge facing the country today.
She added that the agency has deployed a multifaceted approach to tackle the menace.
She said, “Fruits provide the body with micronutrients that improve immunity and prevent diseases among other benefits.
“Fruit ripening is a unique aspect of plant development, which makes the fruit edible, softer, sweeter, more palatable, nutritious, and attractive.
“However, the consumption of fruits such as mango, banana, plantain, guava, orange, grape, etc or any other fruits ripened with calcium carbide is dangerous to health.
“Consumption of fruits containing these impurities may cause cancer, heart, kidney and liver failure.
“They may also cause frequent thirst, irritation in mouth and nose, weakness, permanent skin damage, difficulty in swallowing, vomiting, skin ulcer and so forth. Higher exposure may cause undesired fluid build-up in lungs (pulmonary oedema).”
She said that the agency would not relent in its efforts to eradicate the illicit drug trade being perpetrated by drug hawkers, noting that drug hawkers are merchants of death.