– Cautions against the consumption of carbide ripened fruits
The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has said it will no longer be business as usual for drug hawkers in the country, as drug hawking has been termed a criminal act and anyone caught in the act will be made to face the full wrath of the law.
The regulatory agency has also decried the nefarious activities of market women and men who engage in the use of calcium carbide to ripen fruits, saying such acts expose the health of undiscerning consumers to different ailments such as cancer, kidney problems, sleeping disorders, mouth ulcers, skin rashes, and many more.
Calcium carbide, also known as calcium acetylide, is a chemical compound, majorly for industrial use in the production of acetylene and calcium cyanamide. It is alkaline in nature and erodes the mucosal tissue in the abdominal region and disrupts intestinal functions, when abused as artificial fruits ripening agent. Consuming such artificially ripened fruits could lead to different deadly conditions.
NAFDAC Director General, Prof. Moji Adeyeye, at the flag off of a media sensitisation workshop on dangers of drug hawking and ripening of fruits with carbide in Lagos, Wednesday, warned people in the illegal businesses to stop forthwith as anyone caught henceforth will be prosecuted.
Adeyeye, who was represented by Dr Leonard Omokpariola, director, chemical evaluation and research, said: “Drugs are sensitive life-saving commodities which should not be sold on the streets/motor parks or open markets just like any other article of trade.
“I wish to warn that any drug hawker arrested by NAFDAC will be prosecuted, will face a jail term, and our enforcement officers are currently carrying out synchronized nation-wide operation. No offender will be spared from facing the full wrath of the law.
“The menace of drug hawking poses serious challenge to healthcare delivery system in the country and this underscored NAFDAC’s resolute determination to totally eradicate the illicit trade.
“Many drug hawkers are knowingly or unknowingly merchants of death who expose essential and life-saving medicines to the vagaries of inclement weather which degrade the active ingredients of the medicine and turn them to poisons thus endangering human lives”.
The NAFDAC’s boss further condemned the activities of the itinerant drug hawkers, who not only sell over-the-counter drugs but also prescription drugs as well as hold consultation, recommend and prescribe medicines to their gullible “patients”.
She described them as serious threat to national security, as drug hawkers are identified as major distributors and suppliers of narcotic medicines to criminal networks such as armed bandits, insurgents, kidnappers and armed robbers.
To curtail the criminal act of artificial fruits ripening with calcium carbide, she urged the press as well as members of the public to collaborate with the agency by giving hints of such activities in their neighbourhood, in order to rid the nation of the terrible practice.
“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.
“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. In addition, naturally ripened fruits usually have brown or black spots, while those artificially ripened have traces of powdery substances and peel off quickly”, she disclosed.
Explaining the motive for the workshop, Director of Public Affairs, NAFDAC, Dr Abubakar Jimoh, maintained that it is a battle of attitudinal change, because it has to do with removal of wrong orientation and culture imbibed for several years, which requires consistent approach to overcome.
He therefore implored all stakeholders to cooperate with NAFDAC to win the battle against drug hawking and artificial ripening of fruits.