With the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) department vowing to crack down on traders found using calcium carbide to ripen mangoes, the city’s mango dealers are finding the action a bitter pill to swallow. Traders are threatening that they will not purchase mangoes from farmers this season because they believe that the FDA’s rules are illogical and would be difficult to adhere to.
At a meeting called on Sunday by the FDA department to make traders aware of the dangers of adulterated mangoes, the traders put forward their concerns, insisting that they will not purchase or sell mangoes till the rules are relaxed. Shivlala Bhosle, president of traders at Market Yard, said, “Though it is a step in the right direction keeping in mind the consumers health, it is very difficult to follow these norms since they are very harsh. But, we will still try and abide by the set of laws.”
After the meeting, all traders held an impromptu meeting among themselves after which they told FDA officials that it would be very difficult to follow the rules and they won’t buy or sell mangoes this season. Explaining the reasons for their protest, AM Konde, divisional head of Market Yard, said, “If we purchase mangoes that haven’t ripened, we have to store the boxes at our shop. But considering the quantity of cartons that arrive daily, there will be no place to store these boxes after a few days. Moreover, the dimensions of most of the shops range from 11-ft by 26-ft. Hence, it would be cumbersome to store mangoes for more than a fortnight for them to ripen.”
According to FDA norms, a heavy fine would be imposed on traders caught indulging in ripening mangoes with calcium carbide. The punishment could vary from six months imprisonment or a fine up to Rs 10 lakh. Raising questions about the penalty, a dealer, on condition of anonymity, said, “What happens if the mangoes are artificially ripened by the growers and we are caught by FDA officials while transporting them? We would be penalised for no fault of ours. Moreover, if we desist from purchasing the adulterated mangoes from the farmers, there would be 99 other dealers willing to buy them, as there is heavy competition during the mango season.”
The FDA, meanwhile, has refused to budge from its stance to curb the malpractice, and is determined to take firm steps against the wrongdoers. Sashikand Kekare, joint commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said, “We will take action as per the norms mentioned in the Food Safety and Standards Act 2006. Although the traders are facing problems, using calcium carbide is no way to go about ripening mangoes. There are other processes that can be used to ripen the mangoes.”