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Food safety dept to crack whip on illegal ripening of fruits

25,April, 2019

Madurai: With mangoes started to arrive in the market, officials from food safety and drugs administration have increased vigilance to make sure that banned chemicals are not used to ripen the fruit. The continued use of chemicals such as calcium carbide and ethephon will have adverse effects on the health of humans.

Only ethylene gas is allowed for ripening the fruit, but it requires a chamber. According to the food safety officials, it will cost Rs 20 lakh to construct a chamber, which no trader in Madurai has. The 100-odd mango traders in the city have not even registered with the food safety department.

Designated officer for food safety, Madurai district, M Somasundaram said that he has instructed the officials to keep a close watch on the godowns where mangoes are stored. He expressed concern about traders not coming forward to register with the department. "We have issued notices to the traders under Section 63 of the Food Safety and Standards Act. They have to registere with the department in 15 days. Otherwise they will face action including jail term up to six months and fine up to Rs 5 lakh," Somasundaram said.

Doctors say that traders have been widely using ethephon, which is a growth hormone that can disrupt the endocrine system in humans. It can also cause stomach upset, ulcer and vomiting besides skin problems like rashes and itching.

The food safety officials said that the naturally ripened mangoes start ripening from the interior part, whereas artificially ripened mangoes ripe in the opposite direction. Naturally ripened mangoes will have green patches on the outer surface, where artificially ripened fruits will be attractive.

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