The House of Representatives on Thursday urged the Executive to check the sale and consumption of artificially-ripened fruits in the country and prosecute those involved.
It urged the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and the National Orientation Agency (NOA) to immediately carry out massive enlightenment to sensitise the public.
This followed a motion by Edward Pwajok (Plateau-APC) at plenary.
Moving the motion, Mr Pwajok reported cases of ripening of fruits with calcium carbide in Nigeria.
He said that in a bid to make inordinate profit and capitalise on the huge national demand for fruits, especially mango, banana, plantain and oranges, fruit dealers used a chemical – calcium carbide – to ripen fruits.
“These acts are reported to cause serious health problems because of their radioactive elements that cause cancer.
“The application of the noxious chemicals is done by farmers and/or sellers without the knowledge of innocent buyers and consumers who take fruits because of its nutritional value.”
The lawmaker disclosed that NAFDAC had warned Nigerians to shun the consumption of fruits ripened with calcium carbide, adding that the act was the reason cancer cases were on the rise in Nigeria.
Contributing to the motion, Emmanuel Oker -Jev (Benue-APC) said that the report he read about adulterated fruits hit him, knowing that fruits which ought to improve his health now posed great danger to it.
He said that the development was serious and advised NAFDAC to swing into action and put a stop to the unhealthy practice.
Also, Serguis Ogun (Edo- PDP) said that in his constituency, NAFDAC should, like National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), constitute a team that would go round farms where fruits ”were forced to ripe.”
He added that NOA should disseminate the information with the use of megaphones in all nooks and crannies for better effect.
“If NAFDAC needs to be funded and given directives, we should do that and also strengthen regulatory bodies, as a house.”
Similarly, Abiante Awaji-Inombek (Rivers-PDP) questioned why NAFDAC was paying little or no attention to food processing but was giving more time for drug matters.
He said that NAFDAC needed to be restructured.
“Parliament needs to re-define what NAFDAC is doing and widen its scope.”
The motion was unanimously adopted by members when it was put to a voice vote by the Speaker, Yakubu Dogara.
The House, therefore, mandated its Committee on Health Care Services to ensure compliance and report back within four weeks.