The National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has warned lactating and breast feeding mothers to be wary of the fruits that they consume,saying some of the fruits may pose serious health challenges to their children.
It noted that fruits that are artificially ripened by calcium carbide and other dangerous substances may lead to vomiting and even pose serious health consequences on their children, lead to a state of coma, which may eventually result to deaths.
The Director General (DG), NAFDAC, Prof Mojisola Christianah Adeyeye,who disclosed this during the North Central Zone of the NAFDAC media sensitization workshop on dangers of drug hawking and ripening of fruits with calcium carbide, also raised concerns over the increase of illegal hawking of drugs in the open market.
The programme also exposed journalists to some of the harmful effects of illegal hawking of drugs.
Represented by the Director, Chemical Evaluation and Research, Dr Leonard Omopkariola, the NAFDAC boss warned that since babies consume what their mothers eat through breastfeeding, consumption of artificially ripened fruits, may also lead to irregular heart beats, if the phosphorus, carbide and arsenic materials from such fruits get into their system and are eventually consumed by their babies.
She explained that some of the impurities contained in calcium carbide include arsenic, lead particles, phosphorus,adding that the impurities are capable of causing cancer, heart, kidney and liver failure.
Other ailments include frequent thirst, irritation in mouth and nose, weakness, permanent skin damage, difficulty in swallowing, vomiting, skin ulcer among others, while higher exposure may cause undesired fluid build-up in lungs (pulmonary oedema).
Prof Adeyeye further advised members of the public not to purchase dangerous non-retailed packed items in the open market in order to prevent the risk of taking contaminated and substandard drugs.
She said:”The ripening of fruits with carbides is another public challenge facing us today and the agency has deployed a multifaceted approach to tackle the menace.
“Fruits provide the body with micronutrients that improve immunity and prevent diseases among other benefits. Fruit ripening is a unique aspect of plant development, which makes the fruit edible, softer, sweeter, more palatable, nutritious, and attractive.
“However, the consumption of fruits such as mango, banana, plantain, guava, orange, grape, etc or any other fruits ripened with calcium carbide is dangerous to health. NAFDAC has noticed the dangerous practice of sale and consumption of fruits artificially ripened with calcium carbide as well as illegal hawking of drugs in the open market.
“Calcium carbide generally contains impurities such as arsenic, lead particles, phosphorus, etc., that pose several very serious health hazards. Consumption of fruits containing these impurities may cause cancer, heart, kidney and liver failure.
“They may also cause frequent thirst, irritation in mouth and nose, weakness, permanent skin damage, difficulty in swallowing, vomiting, skin ulcer and so forth. Higher exposure may cause undesired fluid build-up in lungs (pulmonary oedema).
“Acetylene produced by calcium carbide affects the neurological system and reduces oxygen supply to the brain and further induces prolonged hypoxia.
“The impurities are hazardous to pregnant women and children and may lead to headache, dizziness, mood disturbances, mental confusion, memory loss, cerebral oedema (swelling in the brain caused by excessive fluids), sleepiness, seizure etc.
“Calcium carbide is alkaline in nature and erodes the mucosal tissue in the abdominal region and disrupts intestinal functions.
“Other symptoms of poisoning include diarrhoea (with or without blood), burning or tingling sensation in abdomen and chest difficulty in swallowing, irritation in eyes/skin, sore throat, cough, shortness in breathing, numbness etc.”