Food Control Organisation on Thursday raided Fruit MandiParimpora here and some other wholesale fruit dealers, finding carcinogenic chemical calcium carbide being used for ripening of mangoes.
“During inspection, some fruit dealers were found in possession of boxes in which pouches of calcium carbide were found,” a press handout of Food Control Organization said.
The handout further said, “Use of this chemical, which releases acetylene gas, is prohibited under Food Safety and Standards Act.”
FSSAI website has detailed information on artificial ripening agents and their effects. It states that the most common chemical for fruit ripening, calcium carbide (CaC2) popularly known as ‘masala’ is banned under FSSA Regulations of 2011. It says, “Calcium carbide has cancer causing properties and contains traces of arsenic and phosphorus hydride.” It warns of potential health effects of using calcium carbide-ripened fruits which could range from stomach upset to hypoxia (low oxygen reaching blood and tissues) which could lead to cerebral edema (swelling in brain).
Officials of FCO said that 1100 kgs of mangoes that were found to be ripened with calcium carbide were destroyed. The dealers, in addition to being issued a warning, have been made to submit an undertaking that such practice would not be repeated in future, the officials said. “We will be keeping a strict vigil on fruit dealers and anybody involved in use of this chemical would be dealt with strictly as per the laws,” Assistant Food Commissioner Srinagar, Hilal Ahmed Mir, said.
A day earlier, similar raids were carried out by FCO in Jammu and 1200 kgs of fruit destroyed after the officials found chemical evidence of calcium carbide being used in ripening.
Controller Drug and Food Control Organization, LotikaKhajuria, has made an appeal to the fruit vendors to use natural methods for ripening. “In order to cater to heavy demands of seasonal fruits, other methods of ripening, which have been permitted as per draft guidelines by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, should be adopted as an alternative.”