Calcium Carbide; The New Ripening Agent In Nigeria’s Fruit Market

Nigeria News takes a look at the health implication of Calcium Carbide as a ripening agent in Nigeria fruit market.

When next you visit the market to buy your fruits, be careful so that you do not buy poison. Sellers use Calcium carbide to ripen many of these fruits, which of course is dangerous to people’s health.

According to findings, the calcium carbide produces acetylene gas when reacts with water. Acetylene gas may affect the neurological system by inducing prolonged hypoxia.

Calcium carbide causes various health hazards like mood disturbances, headache, dizziness, mental confusion, memory loss, sleepiness, cerebral edema and seizures.

Unknown to many, already ripe plantains from fruit market can be dangerous. There is the tendency that it has passed through the Calcium Carbide fruit ripening agent.

Oranges, pineapple, apple, banana are not allowed to ripe naturally anymore, they are exposed to calcium carbide, which of course is hazardous to health.

Narrating his experience, a staff of one of the new generation bank, Mr James Areoye told our correspondent how he nearly lost his life after eating roasted plantain, popularly known as “Booli”.

“I was in the car with my driver when we drove passed a “Booli Seller” around Alausa, Ikeja. I fell in love with this roasted plantain immediately,” Areoye said.

He ordered his driver to pull over as both walked to the shed to buy fresh “Booli”. “I bought four and gave two to my driver. We also bought groundnut and bottle water to make it more sumptuous,” the banker explained.

A few hours later, Areoye developed stomach pain and upset. “I did not take it seriously until the situation became worse, my eyes had changed and my colleagues quickly rushed me to the hospital.”

While the banker was being attended to by the doctors, his driver was brought in for an emergency. The driver complained of the same problem.

Both had eaten poison inside the “Booli”, calcium carbide. They were diagnosed to have consumed calcium carbide with the roasted plantain.

Areoye stated that he was in the hospital for two days as the carbide was flushed out of his body with many drips.

The “Booli” seller was consequently visited and questioned. She said that the use of calcium carbide was not new as a ripening agent and that she did not put it to kill anybody.

Not only Mr Areoye has been the victim of calcium carbide ripening fruits, many people have been complaining and that was why the National Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC is clamping down on the use of the chemical as a ripening agent.

The Director-General of NAFDAC, Professor Mojisola Adeyeye said that the reports had shown that many fruit sellers now use Calcium Carbide as a ripening agent, which is very dangerous to health.

The agency is out to regulate the sales of ripe fruits. The practicability of this regulation is of great concern because most of the fruits dealers do not operate in the standard market.

There is a need for NAFDAC to do serious sensitization campaign in the market and public space so as to educate sellers and buyers on the danger associated with the use of calcium carbide as a ripening agent.

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