By Asmau Ahmad
The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has advised Nigerians to shun the dangerous practice of the sale and consumption of fruits artificially ripened with calcium carbide.
The agency also frowned against the illegal hawking of drugs in the open market because of its contributions to the rate of non-communicable diseases in the country.
The Director-General of NAFDAC, Prof. Moji Adeyeye, gave the advice at a sensitisation workshop on the “Dangers of drug hawking and ripening of fruits with carbide” organised for journalists in the South-West in Ibadan on Friday.
Adeyeye, represented by a Director, Chemical Evaluation and Research, Dr Patrick Omopariola, urged Nigerians to stop eating fruits ripened with chemical.
She said that the ignorance of safe methods had led many people to adopt unhealthy practices, which had caused health issues and claimed the lives of many Nigerians.
“There have been clarion calls by well-meaning Nigerians on the need to take stringent regulatory actions to stem the dangerous tide of drug hawking and ripening of fruits with calcium carbide.
“In addition, several national dailies and non-governmental organisations have raised concerns on the looming danger and health implications of these two nefarious activities by certain unpatriotic and unscrupulous citizens in our country,” she said.
The NAFDAC boss charged participants to assume the role of champions in the vanguard of the campaign against drug hawking and use of calcium carbide to ripen fruits as well as other unsafe practices of food preservation.
She also said that the menace of drug hawking posed a serious challenge to the healthcare delivery system in the country and underscored NAFDAC’s resolute determination to totally eradicate the unwholesome practice.
“Drugs are sensitive life-saving commodities, which should not be sold on the streets and 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 and our enforcement officers are currently carrying out a synchronised nation-wide operation.
“No offender will be spared from facing the full wrath of the law,” Adeyeye said.
In a presentation, Director, Food Safety and Applied Nutrition in the agency, Mrs Eva Edwards, highlighted the dangers of food fraud and its impacts on public health.
Edwards said that at least 200,000 Nigerians, including pregnant women and children under age five, die annually from consuming contaminated food, hence the need for awareness creation on food safety.
In a personal remark, Omopariola said that the dangers of using artificial methods to ripen fruits include loss of vitamins and micronutrients, consumption of dangerous chemicals, such as Arsenic, which is carcinogenic and phosphorus and can lead to health issues and death.
He identified Calcium Carbide, Acetylene, Ethephon, Ethylene and Ethylene glycol as the five most commonly used artificial ripeness in the country.
According to him, there are safe alternatives and Nigerians should embrace them.