Chinese Pudi replaces carbide in fruit market

Ethylene-producing chemical sachets imported from China have replaced calcium carbide for artificial ripening of mangoes at Gaddiannaram Agricultural Market Yard at Kothapet, popularly known as Kothapet fruit market.

The ethylene ripeners available in powder form too are forbidden under the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restrictions on Sales) Regulations, 2011.

The state food safety officials, who visited the market on Tuesday, found many boxes containing the imported chemical sachets. Six to eight sachets were recovered from each of the cartons containing raw mangoes ready to be transported.

Following the High Court’s direction for strict implementation of the ban on Carbide, the State government increased enforcement, which led to commission agents and traders shifting to the Chinese Pudi as it is locally known.

Each sachet costs ₹4, as against ₹2 spent on the carbide sachet, and once inside a box of mangoes, it releases ethylene gas through small holes that are punched into it. However, the ingredients and their quantities are not mentioned on the product packages.

The Director, Institute of Preventive Medicine Public Health Labs & Food (Health) Administration, Telangana, K. Shankar, who led a team of scientists from the State Food Laboratory, Nacharam, said the samples collected from four locations inside the market would be sent to the lab for analysis, and if the use of carbide is found, the sellers would be punished.

T. Lakshmaiah, Deputy Food Controller from the State Food Lab, said carbide is banned as it releases acetylene gas which is carcinogenic and harmful for human consumption. Even ethylene is permitted only in its gaseous form in limited doses (up to 100 parts per million), and not in its powder form.

Lakshminaryana Reddy, senior scientist, said the ethylene-releasing chemical, namely ethephon, is used for faster fruition in plants and its residue should not be more than two parts per million on the fruits.

Traders and commission agents, who are unhappy over the restrictions on artificial ripening, demanded that the government find a solution instead of citing rules.

“The ripening chambers in the market are insufficient for the loads arriving here every day. Truckloads of mangoes arrive and leave on the same day to places far off, such as Delhi. How can we be expected to hold them here so long for ripening? We will shut down the business and go home if the government wants that,” fumed Mohammed Abid, a trader.

He also questioned why the chemical sachets from China were not stopped during the customs check in Mumbai, if they were harmful.

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Printable version | Oct 15, 2021 4:14:38 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/chinese-pudi-replaces-carbide-in-fruit-market/article23428104.ece

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