Sib Kumar Das

Synthetic colour used on substandard stock

One trader says stock arrives from West Bengal

BERHAMPUR: Consumers of the city are being conned by traders with substandard potatoes coloured by synthetic dye and clay for almost a decade.

The potatoes predominant in city market look different from those sold in other areas of the State. Any new visitor to the city can easily mark this difference. Even the president of Ganjam Chamber of Commerce, C.Ravindranath accepts that customers of the city have started to forget what good potatoes look like.

These sub-standard potatoes sell at the price of good potatoes. According to a potato wholesaler of the city, Pramod Kumar Bisoi, the price of these coloured substandard potatoes is around Rs 30 less per quintal in comparison to good potatoes that do not have any colouring on them. But retailers never sell the coloured substandard potatoes at low price.

He said this substandard potato stock was reaching the city from West Bengal. To hide the deformities and unhealthy colouration of these potatoes very fine clay called ‘Ela Mitti’ and synthetic colours are used. Even deep holes in these potatoes are filled with clay. Twenty five kilograms of this colouring agent is used to colour 10 tons of substandard potatoes.

The irony is that good potatoes are available at the wholesale market and even ‘low calorie-low carbohydrate’ potatoes are available in wholesale market. But they are sold at less amount. As customers do not know the difference the retailers prefer to keep stock of coloured potatoes.

These substandard potatoes have no takers at Chatrapur, 20 km away. According to Mr Bisoi, sale of these substandard potatoes has come down in tribal pockets of Gajapati, Kandhamal and Boudh districts with arrival of good quality potatoes. Consumer activists feel the Civil Supplies Department should stop sale of these substandard potatoes.