The Director-General of NAFDAC, Prof. Moji Adeyeye, in a statement, said the consumption of such foods could lead to several diseases, including cancer, and death.
The agency noted that fruits ripened with carbide lacked nutrients, juice and were poisonous. It said, “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.”
NAFDAC said that eating them could trigger symptoms, such as diarrhoea (with or without blood), a burning or tingling sensation in the abdomen and chest difficulty in swallowing, irritation in eyes/skin, sore throat, cough, shortness of breath and numbness.
The agency added, “Calcium carbide generally contains impurities, such as arsenic, lead particles, phosphorus, etc. that pose a number of very serious health hazards. These impurities may cause serious health problems when those applying calcium carbide on fruits come in direct contact with the chemical.
“Consumption of fruits containing these impurities may cause cancer, heart, kidney and liver failure. They may 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 the lungs (pulmonary oedema). Acetylene produced by calcium carbide affects the neurological system and reduces oxygen supply to the brain and further induces prolonged hypoxia.”
NAFDAC also warned traders and farmers against using carbide to ripen it fruits.
The agency said it would soon begin a nationwide monitoring of markets to ensure that carbide-ripened products are not sold to consumers.
It added, “NAFDAC hereby warns farmers’ traders and the general public that ripening fruits with calcium carbide is very dangerous to health and is a criminal offence. Perpetrators would be prosecuted.
“NAFDAC is commencing immediate nationwide monitoring of fruits markets to check activities of unscrupulous traders involved in the illegal artificial ripening of fruits using hazardous chemicals such as calcium carbide.
“Consumers are advised to examine fruits carefully by observing the variation of colour. If the fruit that you buy is too good among others in ‘near perfect’ ripening colour, it may have been ripened with calcium carbide. Fruits should be washed thoroughly under running water before consumption.”
The agency urged members of the public to report suspected cases to the nearest NAFDAC office or call 09094262773, 09094262772 and 08133630600.