By Miriam Humbe
The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), formerly CPC, has said it received credible information that chemicals are used as forced and artificial ripening agents for fruits, vegetables, and other food items. Of particular note is the use of calcium carbide to hasten the ripening of oranges and mangoes.
A statement emanating from the Chief Executive Officer of FCCPC, Mr. Babatunde Irukera revealed that Calcium carbide (CaC2) is a chemical compound containing arsenic and phosphorus, which have been scientifically proven to contain harmful carcinogenic properties that are harmful and capable of serious adverse effects and possible fatalities associated with consumption of food containing them.
He said: “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 is collaborating with other relevant regulators and stakeholders in the food security value chain to prevent this continuing practice, sensitize and educate stakeholders, as well as interdict and confiscate produce already otherwise compromised by exposure”.
One way of detecting fruits or produce artificially ripened in this manner is careful physical examination before purchase. Forcefully ripened fruits usually do not have uniform colours, appear with yellow and green patches, are hard in texture, low in flavor, less juicy and often will not be as sweet as they should be.
“Consumers are advised to exercise caution and vigilance by examining what they purchase and intend to consume. In addition, it is always helpful to make routine inquiries before purchases, wait till the peak seasons for specific fruits arrive, and thoroughly wash farm produce before consumption”, Irukera said.