The Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC) has cautioned the general public to be careful of fruits that have been forcefully ripened by application of chemicals. This was conveyed in a press statement signed by the Commission’s Chief Executive, Babatunde Irukera.
The Commission revealed that it had received credible information that chemicals and ripening agents, especially calcium carbide, are being used to ripen fruits, vegetables and other food items.
According to the press statement, “The FCCPC has received credible information that chemicals are used as forced and artificial ripening agents for fruits, vegetables and other food items. Of this particular note is the use of calcium carbide.
“Calcium carbide 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.”
The FCCPC cautioned consumers, retailers, farmers and others in the produce value and distribution chain to desist this practice and advised consumers to be careful and vigilant while purchasing fruit items by examining the fruits physical appearance; the colour, texture and flavour, be purchasing these items.
The Commission noted that, “One way of detecting fruits or produce artificially ripened is to carry out a careful and physical examination before purchase. Forcefully ripened fruits usually do not have uniform colours, they appear with yellow and green patches, and are hard in texture as well as low in flavour.”
The FCCPC further stated that it is collaborating with other regulatory bodies and stakeholders in the food security value chain to prevent the continuing practice. It said it would sensitize and educate stakeholders on the issue, while also assuring that produce already compromised would be interdicted and confiscated.