It is assumed that fresh fruits are the healthiest and safest food that one can consume today. With the summer already in full swing, fruits like mangoes, water melons, papayas, bananas, melons, oranges are soon to hit the market. Some of these can already be spotted in the city, earlier than their ripening period. This is because they are chemically treated to reach the market beforehand and increase profits while keeping them perfectly sweet and ready for consumption.
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), however, has issued directives to all States and Union Territories to undertake “effective surveillance and enforcement activities” to check on the usage of artificial ripening substances like calcium carbide or acetylene gas.
The apex body responsible for protecting public health by supervising food quality in India has issued directives to inspect and monitor samples to ensure that no harmful banned substances are used to artificially ripen the fruits and vegetables.
FSSAI also advised the Commissioners of Food Safety of all states/UTs to perform similar exercise for vegetables to check the level of pesticides.
“Despite prohibition on sale of artificially ripened fruits by using calcium carbide, the prevalence of such ripened fruits in the market is a serious cause for concern and needs to be tackled effectively,” FSSAI noted in the order.
“Commissioners of Food Safety of all states/UTs are hereby directed to initiate effective surveillance and enforcement activities to rule out any possibility of ripening the fruits with the aid of harmful and banned substances viz. calcium carbide or acetylene gas. They are also advised to do a similar exercise for vegetables to check the level of pesticides,” FSSAI said in a recent order, according to a report.
The traces of Arsenic and Phosphorous present in Calcium Carbide can cause vomiting, diarrhoea with or without blood, burning sensation of the chest and abdomen, thirst, weakness etc.
Pune receives a lot of these summer and exotic fruits earlier than their ripening period. Hence to avoid harming their health, Puneites are urged to stick to local fruits and vegetables and also thoroughly clean and peel them before consumption.
“With Pune’s proximity to hill stations and the Konkan coast that produce a lot of these summer fruits, we tend to see the fruits in the market earlier to their ripening period,” says a Fruit Vendor at Mandai.
“Apart from that, many exotic fruits that are not native to India can also be seen in the shops almost throughout the year. It is obviously done by chemically ripening them. The exotic fruits look fresh and shinny even after being imported from another country sometimes, because they have been treated.
“The best way to avoid in-taking the harmful chemicals and pesticides is to buy seasonal fruits and that too the local variety at the right time. Wait for the good produce to come in the market and avoid consuming fruits at the very start of the season. Skip buying fruits that look aesthetically appealing and are spotless or ultra-clean. Bananas and mangoes with black spots and slight discoloration are the ones that you should consume,” he added.
Precautions to be taken by consumers:
- Wash the fruit thoroughly before consumption under portable running water for few minutes so that the chemicals are washed away.
- While eating mangoes and apples, it is better to cut the fruits into pieces rather than consuming them directly.
- As far as practically possible, peel off the fruits before consumption.
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