VIJAYWADA: After imposition of a strict ban on the usage of carbide for artificial ripening of fruits, the wily fruit vendors at Nunna mango market and Kedareswarapet fruit market took the international route to import ripeners from China and Italy.
Many an eyebrow is raised at the audacious and brazen manner in which the vendors are going ahead with their illegal practices showing scant respect to the rules set by the Food Safety and Health department. The lives of consumers are at high risk as chemical ripeners can cause serious health problems like heart ailments and cancer.
The overseas supply of harmful ripening chemicals came to light during the raids conducted by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) on Monday at Nunna mango market. The FSSAI officials found boxes containing Ethiopian plant hormone solution, ethylene powder and hand sprayers.
When TOI asked the officials how the vendors could get access to the harmful chemicals, they said the vendors are tight-lipped over the issue. “The arrested vendors are not spilling the beans on how they are managing to get the chemicals,” assistant food controller ASF – Zone II Nageswaraiah said.
The officials found the solution and powder stocks in the living rooms of workers in the market. It is amply evident that Ethiopian solution and powder are being used to ripen the fruits. The food safety officials said containers of the chemicals carried the names of China and Italy indicating that they are being supplied from these countries. The officials expressed concern over the trend as many times in the past it was found that duplicate items with fake labels were produced in China.
“We can’t tell about the chemical composition of the seized powder and solution by just looking at the labels. To analyse the chemicals, we have sent all the samples to the State Food Laboratory in Hyderabad. Fruit samples were also sent,” Nageswaraiah said.
Vendors’ association at the Nunna mango market says it has no idea on the chemical consumption and who was transporting the banned chemicals to the market. “Getting chemical powders and solutions from foreign countries is not that for small-time vendors. Some bigwigs may be behind their flow into the market,” a vendor at Nunna mango market told TOI. Further, he expressed doubts that this could be a part of a statewide racket.
A Srinivasa Rao, food safety officer said the seized chemical solution and powder are being sprayed on the fruits. “The chemicals are being used for ripening bananas and mangoes, which are harmful to health. Based on the results, action would be taken against the vendors,” said IPM officials.