Chennai: In a major ‘midnight operation’ at the Koyambedu wholesale market, food safety officials seized five tonnes of artificially ripened fruits on Saturday.
The already bustling Koyambedu market witnessed more activity as a team of more than 20 officials and scores of police personnel engaged in a surprise check at the fruit market. During the operation, the officials inspected as many as 136 shops.
According to the officials, the raid had taken place after complaints regarding artificial ripening of fruits using harmful chemicals were received from consumers. “To make the fruits ripen faster, some traders resort to chemicals like calcium carbide and ethanol. The chemicals will do harm to the consumers,” a food safety official said.
The officials had found that of 136 shops, 24 fruit shops have been stocking artificially ripened fruits. “During the inspection, nearly 3.25 tons of chiku (sapota) fruits have been seized. Addition to that we have also seized 1 ton of mangoes and 750kg of bananas,” one official said.
Officials also said that some traders use calcium carbide to ripen mangoes and chiku. To earn quick money, traders use ethanol to ripen bananas faster. Both the chemicals are harmful to health, officials said.
According to the official estimation, the value of seized fruits would collectively cost approximately Rs 2.5 lakh. The seized fruits were disposed in the waste-to-energy plant functioning near Koyambedu market.Consumers demanded more such inspections ahead of the mango season. “Due to huge demand for mangoes, traders are ‘traditionally’ using calcium carbide. Food safety officials should do periodic inspections till the end of the season,” R. Yogeswaran of Valasaravakkam said.