With the summer season having set in and mangoes slowly flooding the market, Food Safety Wing officials in the district are gearing up to launch a drive against the practice of artificial ripening of mangos.
The demand during peak season is estimated to exceed 10 tonnes every day in the district.Supply
With the supply not always keeping up with the demand and given the high profit margins involved, some food businesses operators resort to artificial ripening, a senior Food Safety Wing official told The Hindu here on Wednesday.
Artificial ripening can be detected upon close examination of the mangos. Such mangoes will have uniform yellow colour across their surface with no traces of green.
The mangoes that ripe naturally will have traces of green and yellow and will not be uniform in colour.
Further, all mangoes in a batch will have the uniform colour.
Despite having yellow skin, the mango will be hard and not have the softness of ripe mangoes, the official said.
Artificial ripening was mostly done using calcium carbide, which was widely available at low costs and was predominantly used in arc welding.
When mixed with water, it emitted acetylene gas which caused the chlorophyll (green pigment) to change colour. However, none of the other processes involved in ripening takes place.
As calcium carbide was an industrial grade product, it contained arsenic and lead participles.
These toxic impurities affect the neurological system and reduce the oxygen supply to the brain. Consuming artificially ripened mangoes could result in sleeping disorders and headaches, memory loss, seizures, mouth ulcers, skin rashes, renal problems and possibly, even cancer, the official warned.List
A list of the fruit shops had already been prepared. Inspections would be taken up soon in all the 12 blocks of Coimbatore district and the three municipalities, besides the Corporation limits.