The Director-General of the Nigerian Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Prof Mojisola Adeyeye, has warned that consuming fruits ripened with calcium carbide can cause cancer, heart failure, kidney failure, and liver failure.
Prof. Adeyeye made the warning on Tuesday at the official flag-off of the agency’s media sensitisation workshop on the dangers of drug hawking and ripening of fruits with calcium carbides.
She said that the ripening of fruits with carbide is a public health challenge and that the agency has deployed a multifaceted approach to tackle the menace.
Prof. Adeyeye said that the artificial ripening of fruits with calcium carbide leads to the loss of properties such as colour, taste, and feel, and that the fruits do not have the natural aroma and flavour of naturally ripened fruits.
She also said that calcium carbide contains impurities such as arsenic, lead particles, and phosphorus, which can pose serious health risks.
“Consumption of fruits containing these impurities may cause cancer, heart, kidney and liver failure,” Adeyeye said. “They may also cause frequent thirst, irritation in the 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 the lungs.”
She added that NAFDAC has commissioned a scientific study on the best approach to mitigating the health hazards posed by the ripening of fruits with carbides.
The NAFDAC DG urged consumers to be aware of the dangers of carbide-ripened fruits and to only buy fruits that have been ripened naturally.
She said that consumers can identify carbide-ripened fruits by looking for fruits that have a strong odor, that are not evenly ripe, or that have a powdery substance on the skin.
Prof. Adeyeye said that NAFDAC is working to crack down on the use of calcium carbide in fruit ripening and that consumers who suspect that they have purchased carbide-ripened fruits should report the matter to the agency.