A Don, Dr Ikechi Agbugba, has urged government at all levels and stakeholders to check traders’ use of soaps and detergents to wash fruits, vegetables and other agricultural produce because of their harmful effects on the body.
Agbugba, a lecturer at the Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics, Rivers State University, Port Harcourt, gave the advice in Lagos.
According to him, the traders use soaps in the open to remove dirt from the fruits and vegetables and some root crops and nuts.
“The use of detergent and soap in washing off dirt from fruits, vegetables and some agricultural produce is rampart, especially among retail traders in agricultural products.
“’This should not even be mentioned but we see it every time.
“’Soaps and detergents are chemicals and they are not friendly to the body.
“’Besides, they are not produced for washing any type of agricultural product and produce, but for washing cloths.
“People do this due to ignorance and those doing it should be enlightened to stop using them on fruits and vegetables,” he said.
Agbugba, who is also a vegetable expert, said that it was time consumers got involved and take seriously what they bought with their money for consumption.
He said that injecting such chemicals which could be avoided, was dangerous to health and contribute to funny illnesses people had to battle with in societies nowadays.
Agbugba said that in the olden days, parents use ordinary water to wash dirt off fruits, vegetables and tubers like carrots, potatoes and yams among others.
He added that they lived long and healthy lives without the illnesses prevalent in the society today.
The Lecturer said that traders and retailers could use ordinary water, foam and local sponge which were friendly to the body to wash dirt off their goods.
He said at times you see retailers immersing nut produce like groundnuts. and tiger nuts, in soapy and detergent water in the name of removing dirt from them.
According to him, the shell of the nuts absorb water and swell up fast as such once immersed in such water the inside will be affected automatically.
He said that the shell of most agricultural products were just like human skin and absorbed liquid fast.
Agbugba added that once the fruits, nuts, vegetables, root crops membrane absorbed the chemical it spread to their inner parts.
He said that relevant government agencies should enforce the laws on safe handling of agricultural produce and products and educate traders on hygienic ways of handling them for sale.
Agbugba said that market officials should also make it their duty to create awareness among their members to stop using detergents and soap to wash agricultural produce and products.
He said that it would be good also if the Consumer Rights Protection (CRP) left its comfortable offices and enter the market to counter the activity.
He said it would make them to have first hand experience of how the markets, where the consumers they were protecting were buying their food stuffs, looked like.
Agbugba said that government should also make the soap and detergent producers to display on the packages inscription like: “Detergent is not for washing agricultural products and produce.”