A 90-second video of a man dissecting a banana has been shared on the internet. The man is not speaking in a language from the Indian sub-continent. As per the claim, a batch of 500 tons of bananas arrived from Somalia that contains a worm called “Helicobacter”. It has also been claimed that a person will die from brain death after 12 hours of consuming the bananas and that they will exhibit the following symptoms — diarrhoea, vomiting, nausea, headache.

This video is particularly viral on WhatsApp. Alt News has received several requests to fact-check this claim on our WhatsApp helpline number (+91 76000 11160).

[Viral text: [sic] Hello friends and people please spread this video as much as possible. 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 (diarrhea, 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]


Did Somalia export 500 tonnes of banana to India?

Bananas are indeed exported by Somalia. SOMINVEST, an Investment Promotion Office under the Government of Somalia, states that investment in Bananas has a high rate of return. Earlier this year SOMIVEST tweeted, “Somalia Banana was the most significant export crop to the world, becoming a global brand.” However, the largest consignment of bananas exported from Somalia, Alt News could find as per media reports, was 17 tonnes in 2020 to Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

There are no reports that establish that 500 tonnes of Bananas were exported to India. Further, as per data by India’s Department of Commerce on Imports from Somalia, India doesn’t import bananas.

Is Helicobacter is a poisonous worm?

As per Cancer[dot]gov, the website for the National Cancer Institute — US government’s principal agency for cancer research — Helicobacter pylori is a type of bacterium that causes inflammation and ulcers in the stomach or small intestine.

This bacteria was discovered by Barry J. Marshall and J. Robin Warren and they received a Nobel Prize for their discovery of Helicobacter pylori and its role in gastritis and peptic ulcer disease in 2005. As per the Nobel Prize press release, it is also defined as a bacterium — they are too small to be seen with the naked eye.

Alt News spoke with Pune-based gastroenterologist Dr Prasad Bhate and he said, “Helicobacter can lead to stomach cancer which can be fatal. However, this fatality is never triggered in a matter of hours. It typically takes months or years depending on the complex interaction between host and bacterial in the development of gastrointestinal pathology.”

To sum it up, Helicobacter is not a poisonous worm.

Statement from National Research Centre for Banana

In order to understand the deficiency in the bananas shown in the video, Alt News sent a query, along with the viral video, to the National Research Centre for Banana based in Tamil Nadu.

“In this video worm-like threads having no features of worm except the shape are being pulled out of fully ripe banana and termed “Helicobacter” which cannot be seen by the naked eye. The bacterium has to be isolated, stained and observed under the microscope. Moreover, no such worms are recorded to infect an intact banana. Another fact is that India does not import any bananas from Somalia.”

Prior to our fact-check, UAE-based media outlet, BARQ shared a statement by Abu Dhabi Agriculture & Food Safety Authority refuting the claim. The claim was earlier viral in UAE.

To sum it up, a viral video of a man dissecting bananas is being shared with a false claim that it has poisonous worms called “Helicobacter”.

About the Author

🙏 Blessed to have worked as a fact-checking journalist from November 2019 to February 2023.