By Ajuma Edwina Ameh
The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) says its officials are currently on surveillance across the country to track and arrest anyone found using calcium carbide to ripen fruits.
The agency warned sellers of fruits such as oranges, banana, mangoes, plantain and many others to desist from using calcium carbide or risk being arrested.
Persecondnews gathered that most farmers or traders who cannot wait for fruits to ripen naturally put calcium carbide in an air-tight container or bag containing unripe fruits to ripen it for sale. In the process, acetylene gas is produced and acts as a ripening agent.
The Director-General of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Christianah Adeyeye, disclosed this at a sensitization campaign in Onitsha, Anambra State on Friday.
“We are appealing to Nigerians to be on alert and NAFDAC will not hesitate to deal severely with anyone that is apprehended for ripening fruits with carbide because our officials are already on surveillance watching,” she said.
The NAFDAC boss explained that carbide has enormous negative implications on the health of the people, hence, should not be used on fruits as it causes cancer, liver diseases and many other health complications.
Adeyeye, who was represented by the Director of Public Affairs of the agency, Dr Abubakar Jimoh, appealed to Nigerians to be on the alert and report anyone found using carbide to ripen fruits to the nearest NAFDAC office or the law enforcement officials.
She said: “In the past four years, we have been intensifying efforts to tackle the menace. We have held several sensitization fora for fruit and vegetable sellers across the country.
“This time around, we are taking the campaign to another level by going from community to community and getting the people enlightened and sensitize them about this ugly practice.
“This is because cases of cancers, kidney disease, liver cirrhosis that have been noticed in various hospitals across the country are traced to some of these sharp practices.
“To that extent, NAFDAC is intensifying its campaign and also appealing to fruit sellers to stop the practice and also cautioning prospective buyers to be vigilant about the nefarious activities of some people.”
Adeyeye said those who engage in such sharp practices want to make quick gains at the detriment of public health, adding that all hands must be on deck to enlighten people to allow fruits to ripen naturally as obtained in the past.