Fruit allegedly sprayed with chemicals for ripening could pose health hazard

Officials of the Food Safety Wing have been conducting inspections in mango wholesale trading centres across the State for the past two days, following reports that mangoes sold in the State were heavily sprayed with chemicals and that these could be a health hazard.

Ninety-seven samples of mangoes, suspected to have been sprayed with chemicals, have so far been sent to the Government Analytical Laboratories to test for the presence of chemicals.

In the inspections held on Thursday, 55 kg of raw mangoes were seized from Malappuram district after the Food Safety officials found that these were being ripened using calcium carbide. A fine of Rs.20,000 was imposed on the trader concerned. Last month too, Food Safety officials had seized and destroyed huge quantities of mangoes brought in from other States, after detecting calcium carbide along with the consignment.

The Commissioner of Food Safety said that their counterparts in neighbouring States had given the information that chemicals like Ethrel/Ethephon, which are plant growth regulators used for improving the growth of plants and for increasing productivity in orchards, were being sprayed by traders on mangoes to ripen them.

He said that the information had been passed on to the Science and Research wing of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India. Details had been sought on the possible harmful effects these chemicals could have on those who consume the fruit.

The Food Safety Commissioners in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh have been requested to conduct stringent tests on the quality and safety of tomatoes, mangoes, pineapple and banana dispatched to Kerala, he added.

Food safety wing will continue their inspections on Friday also.