The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control says those who eat fruits ripened with calcium carbide risk developing cancer, heart, kidney and liver failures.
NAFDAC also said higher exposure to fruits ripened with calcium carbides may cause undesired fluid build-up in the lungs.The Director General of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, said on Tuesday at the official flag-off of the agency’s media sensitisation workshop on dangers of drug hawking and ripening of fruits with calcium carbides, describing as “public challenge.”
According to a study published on Science Alert, calcium carbide is a corrosive and dangerous chemical containing traces of arsenic and phosphorus hydride as impurities.
The researchers in the study noted that calcium carbide-ripened mangoes induce significant negative changes in some of the investigated physical characteristics: fruit weight, physiological weight loss, firmness and biochemical constituents such as pH, tiratable acidity, total soluble solids and vitamin C in all the three groups.
The NAFDAC DG said fruits provide the body with micronutrients that improve immunity and prevent diseases among other benefits.
She, however, said 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.
“Fruits artificially ripened with calcium carbide may be ripe on the skin, the inside remain unripe. You can identify such artificially ripened fruits if you notice that the fruits are all yellow, whereas the stem is dark, this is true especially with banana and plantain.
fruits containing calcium carbide may cause cancer, heart, kidney, liver failure, frequent thirst, irritation in mouth and nose, weakness, permanent skin damage, difficulty in swallowing, vomiting, skin ulcer, etc
“In addition, naturally ripened fruits usually have brown or black spots, while those artificially ripened have traces of powdery substances and peel off quickly.
“Effect of artificial ripening on fruit quality include but not limited to the considerable loss of properties such as colour, taste and feel, and such practice does not give the natural aroma and flavour to the fruits.
“These fruits do not possess uniform colour and are less juicy than when ripened naturally and have 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, that pose several very serious health hazards.
artificially ripened have traces of powdery substances and peel off quickly
“Consumption of fruits containing these impurities may cause cancer, heart, kidney and liver failure. They may also 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). Acetylene produced by Calcium Carbide affects the neurological system and reduces oxygen supply to the brain and further induces prolonged hypoxia,” she said.
She also said the impurities are hazardous to pregnant women and children and may lead to headache, dizziness, mood disturbances, mental confusion, memory loss, swelling in the brain caused by excessive fluids, sleepiness, and seizure.
“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 diarrhoea (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.
Calcium carbide generally contains impurities such as arsenic, lead particles, phosphorus, that pose several very serious health hazard
It is gratifying to announce that apart from sensitisation campaigns and Enforcement activities, 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,” she added.