A vegetable and fruit expert, Dr. Ikechi Agbugba, has advised states and local governments to check traders and food vendors using detergents to wash fruits, vegetables, root tubers and nuts.
Agbugba, a lecturer at the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, University of Port Harcourt, gave this advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), in Lagos.
“As such, the use of detergents to wash them is hazardous,” he added.
“This habit has been going on for long and needs to be stopped. It is common sight today at street corners and roadside markets, fruit vendors scrubbing fruits inside soapy containers as if they are washing jeans trousers.
“When you confront them, they will tell you it is the only way to wash off the soil dirt from the fruits.
“Using clean water and local sponge is okay and enough to remove the dirt and any residue from the soil,” Agbugba said.
He said when soaked in soapy water, the fruits absorbed the chemicals through the porous membrane, making them unfit for consumption.
He said fruit sellers were feeding unsuspecting consumers with chemical poison in the name of cleanliness.
Agbugba said: “Some of these vendors are ignorant of the danger their action is posing to human health. They need to be educated.”
He said such information could be effectively disseminated through the associations and unions of fruit vendors.
Agbugba said market town criers could also be used, adding that the market officials would be able to enlighten retailers on the risks of washing fruits and vegetables with detergents.
He advised the local governments to visit roadside food retailers and illegal markets on a daily basis to check the practices.
The vegetable expert said when fruits on display were extraordinary clean; it was likely that they had been washed with detergent.
He said those with high sense of smell would also be able to perceive the scent of detergent on such fruits.