A consultant family physician, Dr Abdulrahim Abdulrashed, says the use of “Calcium Carbide’’, a chemical with carcinogenic properties, to force fruit to ripe is injurious to human health.
Abdulrashed, a physician in the NISA Premier Hospital, who said that eaten fruits ripen with the use of carbide, could cause heart, kidney and liver failures, urged government to take necessary action.
The medical doctor made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Friday
According to him, Calcium Carbide is a chemical compound that is industrially used in the production of calcium Cyanamid for fertiliser and also in welding iron.
“The chemical is very dangerous and its consumption is deadly because it contains trace of arsenic and phosphorus, which both have dangerous effects on human body and could lead to organophosphate poisoning.
“The process of ripening fruits with chemicals by some unscrupulous traders should of concern to government because of its health, social and economic implications to the society at large.
“We need to do something fast and stop toying with the future of this country,’’ he warned.
Abdulrasheed said apart from using chemicals that accelerate ripening of fruit, farmers also used pesticides to eradicate pests; the fluid that attached to the plants could also damage our health.
The consultant said fruits ripen with chemical would always contain residual components of the chemical in the body, which might not digest very well after consumption.
He identified plantains, papaws, mangos and bananas as most of the fruit items that were predominantly ripened with the aid of carbide.
The doctor warned pregnant women to desist from eating fruits ripened with the use of carbide or other chemical as it could lead to abnormalities in unborn children.
According to Abdulrasheed, the use of calcium carbide is not only toxic to the consumers, it may also, be harmful to those who handle it.
Also, Mrs Bodurin Olusoga, a pharmacist, described the practice of producing or selling toxic fruit items or use of preservatives on raw food by some unscrupulous traders as dangerous and evil.
According to her, it is so unfortunate that people are consuming chemically ripened fruits due to lack of awareness about health hazards associated with it.
Olusoga advised National Orientation Agency (NOA) and the media to commence sensitisation of Nigerians to refrain from the use of carbide to ripen fruits and educate consumers on the health implications.
She also advised fruits sellers to desist from the habit of washing fruits with detergents because “it is dangerous to human health.”
Olusoga urged the Federal Government to direct relevant agencies to take proactive measures against fruit sellers, who make use of chemical to ripen fruits and use of chemicals for preservatives.
NAN reports that Garki Market in Abuja and Orange Market in Nasarawa State are always flooded with varieties of fruits and vegetables that are artificially ripened.
A trader, who preferred to speak on condition of anonymity, said that fruits such as banana, plantain, mango, African star apple, pears, avocado and orange are being ripened with chemical.
The consumers advised relevant agencies to pay unscheduled visit to major markets in Abuja and Nasarawa state to check the activities of unscrupulous traders engaging in this hazardous act.
Also, Mrs Uloma Amanta, a trader, advised relevant government agencies to pay unscheduled visit and raid some markets in the FCT and in Nasarawa and Niger states.
The trader said that out of over 30 trailers that brought fruits into the market, over 80 per cent of the fruits are not fit for human consumption.
Mrs Foluke Kusemiju, another consumer, corroborated the first customer, stressing that majority of the fruits traders in markets across Abuja are involved in the unwholesome practise.
She said severally she has identified artificially ripened fruits mostly plantain bought from Orange market through their lack of a uniform colour and colourless substance on the plantain.
“Not only plantain, even banana, mango and pawpaw with brownish, green and lemon yellow patches around the surface with awful taste.
“Also at a time my children reacted badly to the plantain and landed them in the hospital.
“The worst is the plantains and fruits at Orange and Garki markets,’’ she warned.