Curbing Artificial Ripening of Fruits

Fruits and vegetables play invaluable roles in the physical and mental well-being of people.

This is because fruits contain important vitamins, minerals, plant chemicals as well as fibres needed for healthy living.

Research also shows that fruits and vegetables help to protect against cancer, diabetes, stroke and heart diseases as well as lowering cholesterol and blood pressure.

Fruits are also beneficial in the management of these conditions.

With increased awareness about the importance of fruits to the body, more and more people are beginning to embrace it.

Nigeria as a country is blessed with different kinds of season fruits such as oranges, bananas, mangoes, pawpaw, watermelon, avocados and others.

It is however disheartening that some unscrupulous elements now engage in the use of artificial ripening agents on these fruits on a commercial scale.

How to recognise Carbide-ripened Bananas

Hence, many people today are consuming chemical-laden fruits unknowingly.

Unfortunately, those who engage in this practice have little or no understanding of its effect on human health as they only indulge in it to increase sales and their economic base.

Fruit merchants commonly use calcium carbide; a corrosive chemical which contains cancer-causing agents.

A little amount of these agents can ripen tons of fruits which are then transported to markets across the country for sale.

Little wonder the increasing number of people coming down with cancer, diabetes, high blood pressure and other non-communicable diseases.

For instance, a research carried out in a factory where workers were exposed to carbide revealed that the workers came down with lung cancer after prolonged exposure.

Moreso, artificially ripened fruits are overtly soft, inferior in taste and flavour and have a shorter shelf-life thereby becoming poisonous to the body it was meant to replenish.

To this end, regulatory agencies such as National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control, NAFDAC, should clamp down on fruit merchants involved in this practice.

It should also beam its searchlight on fruit juice companies to safeguard the health of the people.

The Ministry of Health should put in a place a task-force to monitor activities of fruit vendors across the country.

A national policy to stop artificial ripening of fruits should be developed and adopted to protect the citizens against this practice.

Anthonia Akanji

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