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Using calcium carbide to fast track fruit ripening deadly, says NAFDAC

A practice by mainly foodstuffs sellers in major markets whereby Plantain and Banana dealers ripen fast the fruits including Mangoes with Calcium Carbide has been described as deadly and very dangerous for human consumption.

The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), who raised the alarm, has already issued a public alert, saying ‘The use of calcium carbide for fruit ripening is unsafe’.

Director General of the Agency, Prof Mojisola Adeyeye, said ripening fruits with calcium carbide is very dangerous to health and is a criminal offence adding that perpetrators would be prosecuted.

While warning farmers and traders to desist from the practice, NAFDAC also urged the general public to shun the purchase and consumption of artificially ripened fruits in the interest of their own health.

Adeyeye made it clear that “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. Ripening fruits with calcium carbide is very dangerous to health and is a criminal offence.”

“These fruits although possess uniform colour are less juicy than when ripened naturally and have a comparatively shorter shelf life. Artificially ripened fruits may be ripe on the skin while the inside is unripe. If the fruits are all yellow whereas the stem is dark, the fruit may be identified as artificially ripened; this is true especially with banana and plantain.

“Consumers are advised to examine fruits carefully to select the right fruit 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.”

“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 lungs (pulmonary oedema),” NAFDAC averred.

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