Poisonous Bananas Imported From Somalia? No, Viral Video Is Misleading
We found that India does not import bananas from Somalia, as claimed the viral post.
The Quint DAILY
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A video showing a person dissecting a banana and showing worms coming out of the fruit has gone viral on social media with a claim that they were recently imported from Somalia.
The claim goes on to say that the worm is called helicobacter and it can cause brain death 12 hours after its consumption.
However, we found that the claim is fabricated. India does not import bananas from Somalia and is, in fact, one of the largest producers of the fruit in the world. Secondly, helicobacter is not a worm but a bacteria which is not visible to naked eye.
The message going viral with the video states, "Recently, 500 tons of bananas from Somalia arrived in the markets, which contain a worm called Helicobacter that releases poisonous bananas in the stomach, which then shows the following symptoms (diarrhoea, vomiting, nausea, headache) and after 12 hours the person will die from brain death. Please refrain from buying and eating bananas these days, or if you do buy, be sure to open them inside. Watch the video."
We found the same claim being shared by several users on Twitter and Facebook, archives of some can be found here and here.
We also found that the people made the same claim in Hindi while sharing the video. We received several queries with the video on our WhatsApp tipline.
DOES INDIA IMPORT BANANAS FROM SOMALIA?
We contacted National Research Centre for Banana (NRCB), which is a part of the Indian Council for Agricultural Research. In an email response to The Quint, the director of the institute clarified that India does not import any banana from Somalia.
"In this video, worm-like threads having no features of worm except the shape are being pulled out of fully ripe banana and that worm-like item is called "Helicobacter" which cannot be seen in a naked eye and to view this bacterium, it should be isolated, stained and observed under microscope. Moreover, no such worms are recorded to infect an intact banana," the statement from NRCB said.
According to the Agricultural and Processed Food Products Export Development Authority (APEDA), India is one of the largest producers of banana in the world.
WHAT IS HELICOBACTER?
Helicobacter or Helicobacter pylori is a bacteria and not a worm, as claimed in the viral posts. According to the United States (US) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about two-thirds of the world’s population are infected with the bacteria and it is more common in developing countries.
In 2005, a pathologist Barry J Marshall and a clinical fellow J Robin Warren received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for discovering that the bacteria caused gastritis and peptic ulcer disease.
The condition is treatable by using a short regimen of antibiotics.
Marshall and Warren in their research found that a person can live all their lives with the bacteria in their stomach. Therefore, the claim that Helicobacter can cause death with a matter of hours is false.
We also found a news report published on a UAE-based news organisation UAE BARQ which dismissed the claims as well.
The report carried a statement by the Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority who also refuted the claim and said that helicobacter is a type of bacteria and not a worm.
We also found that the claim was being shared in Africa as well and The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development in South Africa also issued a statement refuting the claims.
Clearly, the claims made along with the viral video are misleading.
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