Shivamogga: You salivate as you see them nestling rosy and inviting in fruit stalls. But delicious as they may be, the mangoes in your local market could harm your health as a lot of the fruit may owe its rich colour to the calcium carbide used to ripen it artificially, say officials of the health department here.
With loads of the artificially ripened fruit arriving in the markets, District Food Safety Officer, K.Krishnappa, has decided to serve notices to fruit merchants, warning them against use of chemicals to ripen mangoes.
“The best way to identify an artificially ripened fruit is to see whether it is uniformly ripened or still hard in parts. People should not fall for their bright yellow colour,” the officer advises.
But fruit merchants say they have no other option as mangoes would otherwise need at least three months to mature on the trees and more weeks for ripening after they are plucked.” If we followed the natural process, the market would be flooded with the fruit all at once and lead to a price crash.
The early lot cannot be ripened without the use of carbon carbide,” they contend. The horticulture department does allow farmers to use acetylene gas to ripen the fruits artificially, aware that if allowed to ripen naturally, all the fruit would arrive after May, causing a glut in the market.
“Mango is a very unpredictable fruit and farmers may lose their crop if it begins to drop before it is plucked. So they are asked to use acetylene gas which is acceptable under international rules.
However the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restriction on Sales) Rules, 2011 do not allow use of any gas to ripen the fruits. So, in the interests of public health, use of chemicals must be avoided,” Mr Krishnappa adds, revealing that chemicals are used not only to ripen mangoes but also bananas, oranges and chiku.