Prevent artificial ripening of fruits: Govt to states

New Delhi: To prevent artificial ripening
of fruits, the Union Health Ministry has asked state
authorities to keep a strict vigil on use of chemicals like
carbide gas, ethephon and ethylene gas for this purpose.

In a circular to all state food (health) authorities, the
Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has
stressed the need for taking legal action for violation of the
Prevention of Food Adulteration rules.

The circular also invited attention of the enforcement
authorities to the provision that presence of calcium carbide
in godowns or wooden crates where fruits are kept may be
evidence for the courts that artificial ripening methods have
been used by the vendor.

The FSSAI has also circulated a copy of the procedure for
detection of acetylene in godowns or treatment chambers for
checking artificial ripening of fruits.

Use of carbide gas for ripening of fruits is prohibited
under Rule 44 AA of Prevention of Food Adulteration Rules
1955. Violators are liable to undergo a six-month imprisonment
and pay a fine of Rs 1,000.

Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Dinesh
Trivedi said traders, retailers and sometimes even growers, in
order to ensure a regular supply of fruits, use all kinds of
unscrupulous methods to ripen fruits artificially much before
their due time.

Calcium carbide, popularly known as masala, is used
extensively. It has carcinogenic properties and is used in gas
welding for steel goods. It can cause mouth ulcers, gastric
irritation or even food poisoning.

Other ways of artificial ripening are dipping fruits in a
solution of ethephon or exposure of fruits to ethylene gas.

The problem is more severe in the case of mangoes and
bananas, though sometimes apples, papayas, guavas, pears and
plums were also ripened artificially as well.

It is suspected that even water melons and melons are
ripened artificially by injecting some chemicals.