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Updated: June 5, 2013 10:23 IST

After spurious drinks, it’s the turn of mangoes

Aloysius Xavier Lopez
Comment (3)   ·   print   ·   T  T  
Officials found sachets of calcium carbide among mangoes at Koyambedu — Photo: M. Vedhan.
Officials found sachets of calcium carbide among mangoes at Koyambedu — Photo: M. Vedhan.

The Food Safety and Drug Administration Department on Tuesday commenced raids on wholesale outlets of mangoes in the city. Of the 52 shops raided in Koyambedu Market 36 were found to use chemicals such as calcium carbide for ripening of mangoes. The officials seized 250 kg of calcium carbide and destroyed two tonnes of mangoes.

According to Food Safety officials, the clinically proven carcinogenic chemical is being used across various wholesale and retail outlets to ripen mangoes and other fruits such as papayas. The Koyambedu Wholesale Fruit Market, which is the point of arrival of mangoes in the city, continues to see a lot of use of the chemical despite warning by civic authorities. The officials said they found labourers packing calcium carbide into small sachets on Tuesday so that they could be hidden within the mangoes for ripening. Use of the chemical to ripen mangoes is prohibited under the Food Safety and Standards Act.

Calcium carbide is a hazardous chemical and contains traces of arsenic and phosphorus hydride.

While inhalation of the chemical can cause unconsciousness, consumption of fruits ripened using the chemical may have serious health implications.

According to T. Jeyakumar, former joint director of public health and State health authority for food adulteration, the calcium carbide stones and powder can severely affect the stomach. “Often, people think that eating a few fruits during the season may not cause harm. The chemical irritates the mucous lining of the stomach and causes ulcers. Over a period of time, unhealed ulcers can cause cancer,” he said.

An even more worrisome trend is spraying of fruit-laden trees with organo phosphorous chemicals. The chemical, which has carcinogenic substances, can cause serious health problems to the persons who spray the chemicals too, Dr. Jeyakumar explained.

Keywords: Food Safetymango outlets

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From one of Hindu's earlier articles:

The tendency is to fall for juicy mangoes based on their bright yellow
colour, as it is difficult for people to identify artificially ripened
fruits. So, experts say the best way to identify an artificially
ripened fruit is to see if the whole fruit is uniformly ripe or still
hard. “Natural ripening means the fruit will become yellow gradually
and not instantly,”

“Fruits ripened with carbide will smell like garlic and will be
uniformly yellow,”

Calcium carbide releases acetylene gas in contact with moisture, and
causes the fruit to ripen in about 15 hours. “It costs only Rs. 25 to
Rs. 30 a kg and about 200 kg of mangoes can be ripened with just 1 kg
of chemical,”. However, it also releases phosphine and arsine that
have a detrimental effect on human health. Wash fruits thoroughly
before consumption. “Soaking them in water for a few hours" should

from:  prasanna
Posted on: Apr 25, 2013 at 08:05 IST

Is there a way to identify the illegaly ripend mangoes?

from:  Rajesh
Posted on: Apr 24, 2013 at 18:10 IST

It would be useful to know how to identify these 'spurious' mangoes, so that customers are aware.

from:  Srividhya
Posted on: Apr 24, 2013 at 10:40 IST
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