Is that ripe mango hazardous to your health?

Feb 13, 2013, 07:42 IST | Anup Satphale

To ensure mango lovers in Pune are not exposed to fruit ripened with calcium carbide this season, the Food and drug administration will conduct an awareness drive to educate growers and traders on the hazards of such practices; those found selling such fruit after the drive will be dealt with stringently.

Thanks to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), this yearmangoes could taste as they should naturally, as the officials are going the extra mile to ensure artificially ripened fruit do not make it to markets in the city.

Taking a note of the existing trend among mango growers and traders, who ripen the king of fruits using hazardous calcium carbide, the FDA has launched a drive to create awareness about alternative ripening methods. The officials have said that if traders are found continuing their unhealthy ripening practices after the awareness drive, they will face stern action.

According to a circular from the main FDA office, Pune, a meeting will be called this month inviting mango growers and traders for an awareness session, and to ensure customers are not exposed to fruit that has been treated with hazardous substances.

“We are organising a meeting of mango dealers and traders from all the markets in city. We will advise them not to use calcium carbide to force-ripen mangoes, as it is not only banned, but is also hazardous to consumers,” said Shivaji Desai, Assistant Commissioner, FDA (Food). Traders are known to use calcium-carbide method in city and other areas and there are no laws to curb the practice.

King of fruits: Traditional methods, including keeping the fruit in a box packed with hay or the ethylene gas-based ripening method, are safe and easy to follow. However, it will be difficult to distinguish an artificially ripened fruit from a naturally ripened one. File Pic

Traditional methods
“Many fruit vendors in the city use artificial-ripening method and it could be hazardous when consumed,” said Sunil Bhat, president of Agro Ripe, a city-based company working for the fruit-ripening and preservation chamber. According to the FDA, there are alternative methods to ripen fruit.

“Though our aim is to stop the use of calcium carbide, we will be suggesting alternative ways for mango ripening. Traditional methods, including keeping the fruit in a box packed with hay or the ethylene gas-based ripening method are safe and easy to follow.”

The officials warn that consumers would not find it an easy task to identify which fruit has been ripened using calcium carbide. “There are ways to do it, but for that a sample will have to be sent to a chemical lab for analysis, which is not easy for every consumer to do,” Bhat said. 


Rip-roaring business
Each season, around 10,000 boxes of mangoes are brought to the markets each day on average, and that number can goes up to 30,000 boxes per day. 
“There are around 200 wholesale mango vendors in the market yard and business to the tune of Rs 50 to Rs 75 crore takes place each season,” Shivalal Bhosale, president of Fruit and Vegetable Vendors Association, said.  

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