The Apple Panic; NAFDAC Reacts

Panic has gripped Nigerians over a text message that is currently being circulated, warning everyone to abstain from eating apples. The message, which also has been posted on various social networking sites on the internet, including Facebook, says a lot of people have died in the

country after eating apples, most of which the message claims, has been contaminated.

The message read: “Tell your loved ones and anybody you know that some of the apples in town are poisonous to eat. All the ones imported into the country currently are contaminated and have been killing people. The statistics is nationwide and it is increasing. This message is from NAFDAC. It is not a rumour”.

But the National Agency for Food, Drug Administration and control (NAFDAC) has disowned the message and announced that the information is false.

The text message is currently spreading like wild fire was first brought to the attention of the NAFDAC Director-General, Paul Orhi at a sensitization workshop for Local Government Chairmen on combating Drug Hawking, which the agency organised yesterday in Abuja.

P.M. News reports that a staff of the agency who got the “Killer apple” text message on her mobile phone drew the attention of the Director General to it.

Dr. Orhi was said to have quickly informed participants at the event that the message did not emanated from NAFDAC and denied the purported existence of any such apples in the country.

He, however, directed agents of NAFDAC on the field to get samples of apples from the markets in major cities for analysis.

The DG also disclosed that NAFDAC does not pass information through text message to the public as it uses newspaper and the electronic media.

While urging Nigerians to disregard the message, he said the public would be informed of the outcome of the analysis on samples of the fruit gathered from markets across Nigerian markets in due course.

Though the agency has allayed the fears of Nigerians, P.M. News, however, gathered that most apple sellers are finding it difficult to convince buyers that the information is not true.

Some of the sellers who spoke with P.M. News at Ogba area of Lagos this morning, said the false alarm has started affecting their business.

Abosede Lawal, one of the sellers who was met discussing the issue, told our reporter that she had eaten three of the fruits before some of her customers between yesterday and now to make them believe that the rumour is not true.

“Yet one of them told me, after I had eaten an apple, that she would wait till Saturday, and if nothing happens to me, she would then come and buy,” she said.

P.M. News, however reports that due to the perishable nature of the fruit, the sellers often sort out bad ones and sell them at lesser price.

Normally, an apple costs between N50 and N70, but when the apple is getting bad, it is sold at N20 or N30. Those who eat rotten ones could become ill.

A man who usually buys the fruit who spoke with P.M. News attributed a situation where people buy rotten apples to eat to poverty.

“What do you expect after eating a rotten apple?” he asked.