Concerns Over Health Hazards Of Artificially Ripened Fruits

Concerns Over Health Hazards Of Artificially Ripened Fruits

Concerns Over Health Hazards Of Artificially Ripened Fruits …C0NTINUE READING HERE >>>

Artificial ripening through the use of ripening agents, is done to achieve faster and more uniform ripening. 

This practice is common among fruits sellers in . Fruits are an essential component of food. They are assumed to protect the body from diseases and increase immunity. Ripening is a natural physiological process that makes the fruit sweeter, more palatable, edible, nutritious, softer and attractive.

Sadly, many of these fruit sellers are ignorant of the health hazards posed by the consumption of artificially ripened fruits.

The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) recently warned against fruit ripening with calcium carbide,  describing it as a harmful practice that endangers human lives.

Director-general of NAFDAC, Prof. Mojisola Adeyeye, said calcium carbide contains impurities such as arsenic, lead particles, phosphorus, etc., that cause several health hazards such as cancer, heart, kidney and liver failure, neurological disorders, intestinal problems, skin damage, mouth ulcers, etc.

According to Adeyeye, fruits artificially ripened with calcium carbide may be ripe on the skin but remain unripe inside, adding that such fruits do not possess uniform colour and are less juicy than when ripened naturally and have have comparatively shorter shelf life.

Corroborating this,  the former chairman, Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria (PSN), FCT,  Pharm Jelili  Kilanli, said calcium carbide, which is commonly used by fruit sellers to ripen fruits, is extremely hazardous to the human body as it contains traces of arsenic and phosphorus.

He said although the chemical is banned in many countries of the world, it is still being used indiscriminately. „Thus, we are at a greater risk of short-term as well as long-term health effects simply by eating fruits that are artificially ripened,“ Kalani said.

According to him, generally, 80 per cent of fruits are ripened artificially through the use of ripening agents. „The cosmetic quality of artificially ripened fruits will increase but organoleptic qualities (taste, colour and smell), nutrition value and shelf life are depreciated when fruits are subjected to treatment without considering maturity status. 

Ethylene (ethene) is the major ripening agent produced naturally within the fruits which initiates the process of ripening. Many ripening agents are used to release ethylene in order to speed up the ripening process. Chemicals like ethanol, methanol, ethylene glycol, ethephon and calcium carbide are used to ripen fruits and vegetables artificially. 

 ‘More raw or less mature fruits require higher CaC2 to get ripened. Carbide ripened fruits produce uniform skin color. Actually CaC2 only changes the skin color and the fruit remains raw inside. Carbide contains traces of arsenic and phosphorous hydride which are carcinogenic agents. Because of cheap availability of CaC2 in local markets, it is used illegally to enhance fruit ripening, he explained.

Kalani said early symptoms of arsenic or phosphorous poisoning include vomiting, diarrhoea with or without blood, burning sensation of chest and abdomen, thirst, weakness, difficulty in swallowing, irritation or burning in the eyes and skin, permanent eye damage, ulcers on skin, sore throat, cough and shortness of breath.  Higher exposure may cause a build-up of fluid in the lungs.

He said acetylene is not acutely toxic if it is below the permissible levels whereas if it exceeds the limits then its inhalation can cause unconsciousness and it may affect the neurological system by inducing prolonged hypoxia i.e. deficiency of oxygen.

The pharmacist further informed that findings related to carbide poisoning have reported headache, dizziness, memory loss, mood disturbances, mental confusion, sleepiness, cerebral oedema and seizure. 

However,  NAFDAC said it has taken some decisive steps such as sensitisation of the public through different media outlets, enforcement through intelligence and raids in fruit markets that have resulted in seizures and destruction of violative products. 

The Agency also said that it  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,“ said NAFDAC DG.



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