The use of calcium carbide and other chemicals to force the artificial ripening of fruits is injurious to human health, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) has said.
The FCCPC, which is formerly the Consumer Protection Commission (CPC), said on Friday it received credible information of the use of these chemicals on fruits, vegetables and other food items by sellers.
The Commission noted in particular the use of calcium carbide to hasten the ripening process of oranges, bananas and mangoes.
Calcium carbide (CaC2) is a chemical compound containing arsenic and phosphorus, scientifically proven to contain harmful carcinogenic properties harmful.
The chemical is known to be capable of serious adverse effects and possible fatalities associated with consumption of food containing them.
“Consumers, retailers, farmers, and others in the produce value and distribution chain are strongly advised to desist from this harmful practice, and to be vigilant in order to prevent consumption of artificially ripened produce using CaC2,” the Commission said in a statement signed by its Chief Executive, Babatunde Irukera.
Mr Irukera said the Commission is collaborating with other relevant regulators and stakeholders in the food security value chain to prevent this continuing practice.
He said the agency will continue to sensitise and educate stakeholders as well as interdict and confiscate produce already otherwise compromised by exposure to the chemicals.
“One way of detecting fruits or produce artificially ripened in this manner is by careful physical examination before purchase.
“Forcefully ripened fruits usually do not have uniform colours. They appear with yellow and green patches. They are hard in texture, low in flavor, less juicy and often will not be as sweet as they should be,” the Commission said.
The Commission advised consumers to exercise caution and vigilance by examining what they purchase and intend to consume.
Also, it said it is always helpful to make routine inquiries before purchases, wait till the peak seasons for specific fruits to arrive, and thoroughly wash farm produce before consumption.
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