NAFDAC Cautions Nigerians Against Consumption of Cacium Carbide Ripened Fruits

The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control(NAFDAC) has warned against consuming calcium carbide ripened fruits in the country.

The Director General of NAFDAC, Prof. Moji Adeyeye, in her keynote address, at the flag-off of the NAFDAC Media Sensitization Workshop on Dangers of Drug Hawking and Ripening of Fruits with Calcium Carbide, also regretted the nefarious activities by certain unpatriotic and unscrupulous citizens in the country.
Adeyeye said NAFDAC has noticed the dangerous practice of sale and consumption of fruits artificially ripened with calcium carbide, which she said were dangerous to human health.

“Ripening is a unique aspect of plant development, which makes the fruit edible, softer, sweeter, more palatable, nutritious, and attractive.”
“People should desist from patronizing fruits ripened with calcium carbide so they don’t endanger their health.”

“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,” she said.
Noting that the ripening of fruits with carbides is another public challenge facing Nigeria now, Adeyeye said the agency has deployed a multifaceted approach to tackle the menace.

Adeyey also listed the effect of artificial ripening on fruit quality, including but not limited to “considerable loss of properties such as color, taste and feel, and such practice does not give the natural aroma and flavor to the fruits.”

“These fruits do not possess uniform color, are less juicy than when ripened naturally, and have a 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 the mouth and nose, weakness, permanent skin damage, difficulty in swallowing, vomiting, skin ulcer, and so forth. Higher exposure may cause undesired lung fluid build-up (pulmonary edema).

“Acetylene produced by Calcium Carbide affects the neurological system, reduces oxygen supply to the brain, and further induces prolonged hypoxia.

“The impurities are hazardous to pregnant women and children and may lead to headache, dizziness, mood disturbances, mental confusion, memory loss, cerebral edema (swelling in the brain caused by excessive fluids), sleepiness, seizure, etc.

“Calcium Carbide is alkaline in nature and erodes the mucosal tissue in the abdominal region and disrupts intestinal functions.
“Consuming such artificially ripened fruits could result in sleeping disorders, mouth ulcers, skin rashes, kidney problems, and possibly even cancer.

“Other symptoms of poisoning include diarrhea (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, numbness, etc,” she explained.

Adeyeye, said, “NAFDAC has commissioned a scientific study on the best approach towards mitigating the health hazards posed by ripening of fruits with carbides.”

“I have mandated some of my directors and support staff to take these campaigns to the nooks and crannies of this country.

“We are confident of winning the war against these two hydra-headed public health menaces.
It is, therefore, a great pleasure for me to declare open this Media Sensitization Workshop while urging you to assist NAFDAC in publicizing and disseminating the knowledge acquired to the general public.”

Adeyeye, during her address on the illegal hawking of drugs in open markets, she noted that the menace of drug hawking poses a serious challenge to the healthcare delivery system in the country, and this underscored NAFDAC’s resolute determination to eradicate the illicit trade totally.

“Many Drug Hawkers are 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 human lives.

“Most of the drugs sold by the illiterate and semi-literate drug hawkers are counterfeit, substandard or expired, and therefore do not meet regulated medicines’ quality, safety, and efficacy requirement.
“Prescription drugs are also sold by the itinerant drug hawkers who also hold consultation, recommend and prescribe medicines to their gullible patients,” she said.

She, however, noted that, “Drug hawkers are also the major distributors and suppliers of narcotic medicines to criminal networks such as armed bandits, insurgents, kidnappers, and armed robbers. Drug hawkers constitute a serious threat to our national security.”

The NAFDAC boss explained that drugs are sensitive life-saving commodities that should not be sold on the streets/motor parks or open markets just like any other article of trade.”

“I wish to warn that any drug hawker arrested by NAFDAC will be prosecuted and will face a jail term, and our enforcement officers are currently carrying out a synchronized nationwide operation. No offender will be spared from facing the full wrath of the law.

“In this regard, we solicit the co-operation and support of all other law enforcement agencies, Nigerian journalists, and well-meaning Nigerians in riding the country of this harmful and shameful practice.”


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