In order to put a stop on ripening fruits artificially using calcium carbide, the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) has started conducting surprise visits in the wholesale market where mangoes are being sold. “Last month, we met around 33 fruits traders from in and around Mumbai, warned them of strict action if any were found using the chemical,” said FDA Assistant Commissioner (Food) Suresh Deshmukh.
Using calcium carbide to artificially ripen any fruit is banned under the Food Safety and Standards Act (FSSA), 2006 and Regulations (FSSR), 2011. However, many traders illegally use this chemical to ripen mangoes, bananas and papayas.
They use the chemical because it ripens the fruit in two-and-a-half days and the fruit can be made available in the market before the season starts. Also, more stock can be brought into the market and it is very cost effective. According to an official from FDA, consuming fruits that are ripened using calcium carbide have a negative impact on health.
“If a person eats chemically-ripened fruit, it may lead to headaches, dizziness, cancer and heart diseases,” an FDA official said. The FDA officials have told traders that they should approach the four government-approved centres in Mumbai where mangoes are ripened using ethylene gas. The fruit takes four days to ripen using this procedure.
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To hasten the ripening process, small paper sachets of calcium carbide are placed between the fruits in the box. Due to ventilation, the chemical reacts with air and heat is produced which, in turn, helps the fruit to ripen early. In the process, the colour of the mango changes from green to dark yellow. According to experts, only the colour of the fruit changes but the fruit becomes tasteless.
Number of days it takes for a mango plucked from the tree to ripen on its own