Fruit traders turn to sprays
Harmful ethylene sprays and gas now being used for ripening fruits in Hyderabad.
Fruits seized by the police during a raid on one of the godowns in the city. The fruits were sprayed with chemicals to induce ripening.
Hyderabad: With the use of calcium carbide (CaC2) to ripen fruits being barred in the state, fruit wholesalers and middlemen are turning to sprays and gas. Most of these products, which are manufactured by food firms, contain ethylene. Companies also sell ethylene generators and concentrate, with which users can make the ripening spray and gas themselves. Banana, apple, mango, musk melon and sapota (chiku) are usually ripened with these sprays.
A Hyderabad-based company that manufactures these products claims on its website that the products abide by directives of the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India and the Union ministry of health. But police has started booking traders who use these sprays. South Zone police officials, who raided godowns in Falaknuma, Chandrayangutta and Mughalpura, seized the sprays and booked the traders for food adulteration.
Police said they suspect the sprays contain chemicals harmful to humans. They have sent the sprays and related products to laboratories for tests. The firms claim they have valid licences to sell these products and ethylene is not illegal. “The use of ethylene to ripen fruits is not banned and horticulture experts endorse the organic use of ethylene in order to get rid of dangerous chemicals like calcium carbide. These sprays contain chemicals other than ethylene. We have sent the sample to a lab to find out. The reports are due,” said DCP V. Satyanarayana.
“If the report proves that these sprays contains harmful chemicals, we will go after the firms that manufacture them,” he said. Senior police officials said they were concerned about the indiscriminate use of chemical sprays to ripen fruits. “We have sought help from the GHMC food safety wing to verify the authenticity of these products. As of now, IPC Sections 272 (adulteration of food or drink intended for sale) and 273 (sale of noxious food or drink) have been slapped on traders who use these chemicals excessively on fruits and vegetables,” said another senior police official from the South Zone.
Dangerous chemicals used to repel insects & pests:
When police raided seven warehouses in the old city, they found that fruit wholesalers were using chemicals like the fungicide carbendazim (a worm control agent) and dangerous pesticides like zinc phosphate. Since most godowns are in a bad shape, traders use chemicals to repel worms.
“At one place, fruits were fully covered with carbendazim. There was rat poison on fruits at another place. These traders pay no attention to protecting fruits from harmful substances,” said south zone DCP V. Satyanarayana. Police also found the use of artificial sweeteners and spurious colours, which are injected into watermelons using syringes. “They can cause cancer, kidney, neurological and digestive disorders,” said the DCP. As per the rules of GHMC’s food safety department, ripening of fruits using ethylene should be done only in AC rooms. But no trader folows the rules, police officials said