I got an alert on Thursday 22 August via Facebook about a supposedly new gastronomic danger in town. The frightening alert says: Never eat egg and banana at the same time because their mixture gives a poison that kills within five minutes.
The message ends with a command: Do not keep this message. Publish this if you are a good samaritan”. Accompanying the message is the photograph of some persons, who appear to be dead. In between them is a bowl of banana and other fruits, making the reader make an assumption that it was the banana they ate that killed them, along with egg.
My curiosity was immediately fired by the message, at least to find out more about this poison. I eat banana and boiled egg a few minutes apart almost everyday and I have never had any problem or reaction at all.
Since I am not in the habit of forwarding any message, as sent, I decided quickly to verify it using Google.
At the first attempt of fact-checking, was this story, a fact check of the same subject. It answered all my questions and even pointed out that the warning is a hoax, which dated from 2013 and that it is being recycled, now and then. Please circulate, this article which we reproduce below, to all those who may have been misled by the hoax:
Holding a placard saying “I was a victim”, a Ghanaian professional footballer based in Nigeria warned his Facebook followers against a poisonous mixture.
“Do not eat egg and banana at the same time!!!” Farouk Mohammed posted.
The warning was similar to another posted on Facebook in early June: “Never eat an egg and banana at the same time because their mixture gives a poison that kills within 5 minutes.”
This post included two photos of men lying on the floor, seemingly dead, next to a spread of food that included bananas. It’s not clear where the photos are from, but they’ve been circulating online since at least 2013.
At the time we published this report, the original post had been shared 52,569 times and liked by 1,242 people.
The footballer didn’t answer Africa Check’s question on how he managed to survive.
Three ways to tell it’s a hoax
First, why aren’t there more reports of this fatal combination? Boiled eggs, bananas and groundnuts are popular snacks for travellers in Nigeria. Nigerians themselves are known to eat dishes like scrambled eggs with banana, and banana pancakes.
So you’d expect to hear of thousands of people dropping dead after eating this “poison”. But we haven’t.
The second clue is that the egg-and-banana story has been repurposed from hoaxes found elsewhere. In late 2016 and early 2017, now-debunked reports surfaced online of a young man in India who had died after eating egg and “sweet” banana. A November 2016 article reported a similar death in the US state of California.
Finally, it’s not scientifically possible for the combination of eggs and bananas to produce a deadly poison, food toxicologist Dr Helen Ayo-Omogie told Africa Check. She teaches at the Federal University of Technology Akure in Nigeria’s Ondo state. So is there any risk? Another food toxicologist, Dr Olawale Otitoju, said there was no harm in eating eggs and bananas at the same time – unless they were contaminated by harmful substances. He teaches at the Federal University Wukari in Taraba state.
Otitoju did warn that a combination of bananas and uncooked eggs could be more difficult to digest. But it won’t kill you.
“If the egg is raw, its sulphur content may react with the carbohydrate in the banana and this may disrupt digestion. But it is not deadly at all,” Otitoju said. – Allwell Okpi (11/06/2018)