Good health, they say, is wealth but one’s health can become a devourer through frequent medical treatment if not well cared for. What we consume is expected to serve as nutrients and medicine to the body. Rather it may bring diseases and sickness if what we eat is not properly checked to ascertain its consumption worthiness. What we eat defines our health status – it is either medicine or poison to the body; it does no more or less! We therefore owe our body that non-negotiable duty of taking adequate care of it by what we feed it.
Tomato, whether classified as a fruit (according to botanists) or as a vegetable (according to nutritionists), indisputably serves immeasurable nutritional value to man no matter what purpose it is used for. Man hardly can do without consuming tomatoes whether as fruit or vegetable in his daily meal. Experts say tomatoes are the major dietary source of an antioxidant, a substance that protects against cell damage. Tomatoes also contain Lycopene, which helps reduce risk of heart diseases and cancer. As important and nutritious fresh tomatoes are to the body, they can be deadly to the body if the rotten form of tomato is consumed.
Rotten tomatoes, in local parlance here in Southwest, are called “esa”. Retailers of tomatoes sort out, isolate and sell these rotten tomatoes at cheap rates. These ‘fallen’ tomatoes are visibly soft, leaking their liquid content as they decay. Most rotten tomatoes also grow mold on their bodies and serve as abode for worms and maggots too.
These worms are maggots or larvae of common houseflies which deposit their eggs when they perch on thetomatoes. Maggot-infested tomatoes cause bacterial poisoning when consumed.
In September 2018, the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC), warned Nigerians against the consumption of rotten tomatoes to forestall cancer. The warning was given by a Deputy Director with the agency, Mrs Christiana Essenwa. She said that rotten tomatoes contain microorganisms that induce cancer. In her words, “once tomatoes become rotten, they will have microorganisms, mostly fungi, and fungi in rotten tomatoes produce mycotoxins which are deadly and induce cancer, and cause immune deficiency in man and animals. Mycotoxins are deadly and can cause all sorts of poisoning in the body. Some research suggested that mycotoxins could also cause kidney damage.”
According to MrsEssenwa, some people think that rotten tomatoes which are cheap can be consumed after washing and heating. But she stressed that toxins cannot be washed or killed by heating because mycotoxins are heat-resistant. She added by advising consumers to keep-off rotten tomatoes often sold cheap in the market, saying “it is better to spend money to prolong life than to use such money to buy death.”
Mycotoxin is a toxic substance produced by fungi and it is capable of causing disease and death in both humans and other animals. They are said to be naturally occurring toxins from molds which cause a variety of adverse health effects.
The damaging effects of consuming rotten tomatoes are enormous and in fact, not instant but gradual. Four major organs (liver, kidneys, intestinal tracts and skin), responsible for eliminating toxins from the body will begin to diminish in function, and then the body’s immune system breaks down too resulting in illness. The body organs involved in the role of detoxification begin to fail in articulation and function when these toxic substances overwhelmingly become too much for the body to detoxify.
Some tomatoes sellers may argue that not all soft and wrinkled tomatoes are rotten and spoilt because some of these fresh tomatoes burst and get punctured as they are being packaged and arranged in baskets from the farm to the point of sale. This argument is validly true. It is common knowledge that when fresh tomatoes are exposed to heat or high temperature, they become soft and subsequently burst.
However, it is important to state clearly that it is at this point that these fresh tomatoes are prone to infestation by housefly which leaves maggot and larvae deposits in its wake.
Special attention should be paid to the tomatoes we buy before slicing, grinding or consuming them. It must also be noted that fresh tomato left for days may have become rotten without growing mold on it. Such tomato must not be consumed.
Kayode Ojewale, Idimu, Lagos via [email protected]