Fruit ripened by chemicals partly responsible for untimely deaths of Nigerians- NAFDAC

By, Amos Ebute Mathew, Kaduna

The National Agency for Food, Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has said that consumption of fruit ripened with chemicals such as calcium carbide is partly responsible for prematured death recorded in the country.

The Agency therefore said it will intensify the raid on sellers of calcium carbide used in ripening fruits and markets where produce with such additives are being sold.

The Director General of the Agency, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye disclosed this in Kaduna on Tuesday at a sensitization workshop organized for media in the North West on the dangers of drug hawking and ripening of fruits with Calcium Carbide.

Represented by the agency’s Director, Chemical Evaluation and Research, Dr Leonard Omokpariola, the Agency boss said drug hawking and ripening of fruits with Calcuim cabide is illegal, adding that Calcuim carbide contains harzadous susbstances that can cause cancer and even damage the human liver.

On deciplnary action against people caught using fruit ripening chemicals, Prof. Adekeye said, they “already launched out multiple actions to be taken and part of it is raid on some selected food market, including those who are illeaglly selling this calcium carbide. We are going after all of them. And a number of arrest has been made accross the country by our enforcement directorates. We are going after them in villages, motor parks. And it is instant prosecution for anyone found wanting. Because this practices are very wrong and they are endergaring life of nigerians.”

When asked if application of harzadous chemicals to fruits for ripening contribtutes to drastic reduction of life expecatancy rate, the DG said “Yes. a lot of things are cuplable and they help to completely make life expectancy rate of nigerians to be really dropping.

“Many of us don’t know what we are eating. During the time of our forefathers, they harvest waht they eat straight from farm fresh without any form of checmial contamination and that is why they are very healthy and live long. But nowadays it has changed,” she said.

Speaking further of drug hawking, the NAFDAC Boss said, “The menace of drug hawking poses serious challenge to Healthcare Delivery System in the country and this underscored NAFDAC’s resolute determination to totally eradicate the illicit trade.

“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 the quality, safety and efficacy requirement of regulated medicines,” she explained.

In his own paper presentation, on ‘Dangers of Artificially Ripening Fruits With Calcium Carbide’ Dr. Omopariola said Calcium carbide, once dissolved in water, produces acetylene which acts as an artificial ripening agent.

He explained further that, “Acetylene is believed to affect the nervous system by reducing oxygen supply to brain. Calcium Carbide contain Arsenic and Phosphorus which are toxic and contain carcinogenic properties, exposure to calcium carbide may cause severe health hazards.

He therefore stated that, the use of Calcium Carbide for the purpose of fruit ripening is illegal and must stop, hence the need for the involvement of the media to help in the campaign against the dangerous practice.