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Your Roasted Plantain, their Calcium Carbide

roasted-plantain-boliOn a recent trip to Lagos, I had an inter­est­ing expe­ri­ence which has giv­en me a bet­ter under­stand­ing of why the mor­tal­i­ty rate in our coun­try is so high.

I want­ed to have some roast­ed plan­tain pop­u­lar­ly called Boli. So I sent my PA to buy three. When he returned, I decid­ed it was not fair to eat all three by myself as we were about to embark on a jour­ney to the oth­er end of town.

So I gave one to my dri­ver and one to my PA and I had the last one. About one hour into the jour­ney, I start­ed feel­ing a bit sick with seri­ous stom­ach pains. But I ignored it, believ­ing it would go away. I cut short a meet­ing two hour lat­er due to the con­tin­u­ing pain. It was then I asked my dri­ver and PA if they were feel­ing OK. To my sur­prise; they have both been in seri­ous pain for over an hour but did not tell me because they knew how impor­tant the meet­ing I was attend­ing was. To cut the long sto­ry short, we quick­ly agreed that the only thing we all had in com­mon was the Boli we ate.

roasted-plantain-boli-2Some of my Boli was still remain­ing; so I gave to a friend who has a lab­o­ra­to­ry to analyse. He came back that the roast­ed plan­tain was con­t­a­m­i­nat­ed with Cal­ci­um Car­bide. I was shocked.

He lat­er told me that it is a com­mon prac­tice in Nige­ria for peo­ple to use Car­bide to ripen plan­tain very quick­ly. The plan­tain will ripen with­in 48hrs, even though it would have tak­en a week or more nat­u­ral­ly.

In a 2010 paper “Eat­ing arti­fi­cial­ly ripened fruits is harm­ful” Cal­ci­um car­bide is found to be extreme­ly haz­ardous to the human body as it con­tains traces of arsenic and phos­pho­rus. It is banned in many coun­tries of the world, but it is freely used in India, Pak­istan, Bangladesh, Nepal, Nige­ria and oth­er poor coun­tries. Thus we are at risk of short-term and long-term health effects sim­ply by eat­ing fruits that are induced to ripen.

artificial-ripening-of-mangoCal­ci­um car­bide CaC2 is used to eas­i­ly gen­er­ate low lev­els of eth­yl­ene gas which can has­ten the (out­side at least) ripen­ing of fruits like bananas, man­goes etc. But it is also dam­ag­ing to health. Reg­u­lar expo­sure will lead to a build up that can be fatal.

Just before vis­it­ing the lab­o­ra­to­ry to give the sam­ple to my friend, I instruct­ed the dri­ver to dri­ve to a major phar­ma­cy in Lagos near­by to us. They were giv­en some med­ica­tion that calmed them and coun­tered the effect of the car­bide. I had already prayed and rein­forced myself by His pow­er in the Inner man. So we all sur­vived it. But imag­ine those that eat this dai­ly and build up the poi­son in their sys­tem. This is why peo­ple die “sud­den­ly” in Nige­ria.

boli-3So I insist­ed my dri­ver vis­its the woman sell­ing the Boli the fol­low­ing day to let her know of our expe­ri­ence. On get­ting to the woman and explain­ing, she sim­ply drove him away not to spoil mar­ket for her. She was appar­ent­ly aware of the pos­si­ble effect of her use of car­bide but was too prof­it focused to care. Peo­ple around her lat­er said they have always won­dered why she nev­er eats her own Boli but buy food from oth­ers around.

Need­less to say, that was my last Boli of the trip. Now I am not say­ing all Boli in Nige­ria are poi­so­nous. Giv­en that the use of car­bide is preva­lent, how do you know which plan­tain is not con­t­a­m­i­nat­ed? So if you are trav­el­ling to Nige­ria, be care­ful what you eat and where you eat. And for those that live in Nige­ria, it is pos­si­ble you may have built some tol­er­ance for this poi­son (due to reg­u­lar inges­tion), but reg­u­lar con­sump­tion will cause long-term health dam­age and could be fatal.

ambode-buying-boliThis greed-dri­ven prac­tice is com­mon in our nation and we all need to be on guard to avoid unnec­es­sary com­pli­ca­tions. Wis­dom is prof­itable to direct. God help our peo­ple.

Cal­ci­um Car­bide is a dan­ger­ous and cor­ro­sive chem­i­cal. Car­bide ripened fruit on con­sump­tion cause sev­er­al harm­ful effects to human health. It has can­cer caus­ing prop­er­ties and con­tains traces of arsenic and phos­pho­rous hydride. Con­sump­tion of fruits ripened with Cal­ci­um Car­bide caus­es stom­ach upset because the alka­line sub­stance is an irri­tant that erodes the mucos­al tis­sues in the stom­ach and dis­rupts intesti­nal func­tions.

Accord­ing to experts, the ear­ly symp­toms of car­bide poi­son­ing include vom­it­ing, diar­rhoea with or with­out blood, burn­ing sen­sa­tion of the chest and abdomen, thirst, weak­ness, dif­fi­cul­ty in swal­low­ing, irri­ta­tion or burn­ing in the eyes and skin, per­ma­nent eye dam­age, ulcers on the skin, irri­ta­tion in the mouth, nose and throat. Throat sores, cough, and wheez­ing and short­ness of breath may also occur soon after expo­sure to the chem­i­cal.

High­er expo­sure may cause a build-up of flu­ids in the lungs. For instance; eat­ing arti­fi­cial­ly ripened man­goes caus­es stom­ach upset because the alka­line sub­stance is an irri­tant that erodes the mucos­al tis­sue in the stom­ach and dis­rupts intesti­nal func­tion. Chron­ic expo­sure to the chem­i­cal could lead to pep­tic ulcer.

By Charles Omole, Decem­ber 16, 2016

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