NAFDAC cautions against consumption of chemical ripen fruits
The National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), has issued stern warning to all Nigerians against consumption of chemically ripened fruits.
The agency also described sub-standard drug hawkers as merchants of death and warned the public against patronizing such items from the market to prevent the risk of taking contaminated, substandard, expired and adulterated food or drugs.
The Director General, NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, gave the warning while flagging off the one-day North Central Zone NAFDAC Media Sensitization Workshop on Dangers of Drug Hawking and Ripening of Fruits with Calcium Carbide in Nasarawa State. The event was organized for Association of Nigerian Health Journalists yesterday in Lafia, Nasarawa State Capital.
Representing the DG, the Director, Chemical Evaluation and Research, Dr. Leonard Omopariola, said that NAFDAC has identified the dangerous practice of sales and consumption of fruits ripened with calcium carbide as well hawking of expired and adulterated drugs in the open market.
The DG noted that chemically ripen fruits like banana, oranges, mango, avocado is on the increase with its health hazard in the country; hence, the need for constant creation of awareness and partnership with the media to help sensitize the public.
“When fruits are forced to ripe with calcium carbide, they lose their original nutrients and become poison, exposing consumers to cancer and other related killer diseases.
She however informed that there are natural ways of ripening fruits without applying dangerous chemicals such as using apple fruit to help ripe banana and also banana pills.
“Ensure fruits are matured from the tree before harvesting. Some fruits like oranges, mango and others cannot be ripened even when chemicals are applied on them to force them to ripe.
The agency also urged consumers of fruits to ensure proper examination of fruits before purchase to ensure they do not use their money to buy fruits that will cause them illness that may lead to untimely death.
Effect of chemically ripening fruits quality include but not limited to considerable loss of properties such as colour, taste and feel, and such practice does not give the natural aroma and flavour to the fruits.
“These fruits do not possess uniform colour and are less juicy than when ripened naturally and have comparatively shorter shelf life. Calcium carbide when sprayed with water reacts chemically to produce acetylene, which acts like ethylene and ripens fruits by a similar process.
“Calcium carbide generally contains impurities such as arsenic, lead particles, phosphorus, etc., that pose several very serious health hazards. 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).
“Consuming artificially ripened fruits could result in sleeping disorders, mouth ulcers, skin rashes, kidney problems and possibly even cancer.
“Other symptoms of poisoning include diarrhoea (with or without blood), burning or tingling sensation in abdomen and chest difficulty in swallowing, irritation in eyes/skin, sore throat, cough, shortness in breathing and numbness”, NAFDAC boss warned.
She added that many drug hawkers were knowingly or unknowingly merchants of death who expose essential and life-saving medicines to the vagaries of inclement weather which degrade the active ingredients of the medicine and turn them to poisons thus endangering lives of consumers.
Professor Adeyeye held that prescription drugs are also sold by itinerant drug hawkers who also hold consultation, recommend and prescribe medicines to their gullible patients.”
She also said that drug hawkers are major distributors and suppliers of narcotic medicines to criminal networks such as armed bandits, insurgents, kidnappers and armed robbers. Adding, “drug hawkers constitute serious threat to national security.”
The NAFDAC boss warned that any drug hawker arrested by NAFDAC would be prosecuted and face a jail term, stressing that the enforcement officers of the agency were currently carrying out synchronized nationwide operation and that no offender would be spared from facing the full wrath of the Law.
In a welcome address, the Nasarawa State Coordinator, Pharmacist Omoyeni Babatulunji, commended journalists partnering with NAFDAC, saying that the media remained a versatile communication tool that has helped in the delivery of information to aid behavioral change and development.
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