Artificially ripened mangoes aplenty in city & not all bad
There’s a good chance that the brightly coloured fruit you see in the market may have been artificially ripened.Consumer activists are calling for a check on the practice, especially ripening by calcium carbide, as it could prove to be a major health hazard.
Social activist Santhana Rajan said most traders are resorting to the process of ripening mangoes by gassing them with ethylene. “Traders are not willing to wait for the mangoes to ripen on their own due to the demand ,“ he said.Consumer activist T Sadagopan is of the view that neither the government nor the food safety department has created any awareness about the safety of the ethylene gas process.
While the use of ethylene is approved by the government, many traders are also using calcium carbide to ripen mangoes even though it is banned. P Kuganantham, a city doctor, said that fruit ripened with calcium carbide can cause gastroenteritis, abdominal pain and diarrhea and is carcinogenic.
The CEO of Kovai Pazha Mudir Nilayam (KPMN), Senthil Natarajan, told TOI that his company uses a refrigerated ripening chamber where the mangoes are ripened with ethylene gas and left for 48 hours till they turn golden yellow. “This is the safest government prescribed method. We have imported machinery from Italy,“ he said.
M Arunachalam, a whole sale fruit merchant in Koyambedu, said, “There are a few black sheep who want to make a quick buck overnight but they fail to realise that even they have children who could eat these mangoes which pose a health hazard.“
“The food safety department’s raids are ineffective. A couple of raids are just as an eyewash,“ said Santhana Rajan. He said that mangoes ripened with calcium carbide can be identified by an unnaturally bright colour when compared to naturally ripened mangoes.