Mango season is here and so is artificial ripening.
Despite spreading awareness about the hidden dangers of artificially ripened mangoes among farmers and traders, the chemical calcium carbide is still being used widely to ripen mangoes across the country, authorities at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) revealed yesterday.
Nearly 26,000 kg of mangoes, worth ₹1.93 crore were destroyed in Mumbai within a period of one month after authorities discovered the hazardous chemical in mango boxes stored in Mumbai godowns, Times of India reported.
These mangoes, meant to be distributed to various markets in Thane, Pune, Navi Mumbai, Akola and Aurangabad were seized and taken to the dumping ground and crushed.
Health officials, warned against consuming such chemical- exposed mangoes and urged public to identify naturally ripened mangoes.
"The use of calcium carbide to ripen fruits is a violation of the Food Safety and Standards Act. It is a known carcinogen and can have far-reaching health effects," FDA commissioner Mahesh Zagade told Times of India.
"Artificially ripened mangoes will not have wrinkles," he added, later.
Calcium carbide, a sand-like powder, is one of the most commonly used chemicals to ripen fruits across the world. The chemical, which contains traces of arsenic and phosphorous, has long been known to pose serious risk to health. Apart from that, in contact with water, it produces acetylene gas.
Exposure to the chemical can create many health problems including headache, dizziness, mood disturbances, mental confusion, memory problems, drowsiness, seizures, cerebral edema (brain swelling) and hypoxia.
Citing the risks, in March 2013, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare banned use of calcium carbide for ripening fruits in India.