VISAKHAPATNAM: Following orders from the High Court to keep a vigil over the practice of artificial ripening of fruits, the officials from Food Safety Department conducted surprise raids at the wholesale fruit godowns in Poorna Market area of the city on Tuesday and checked the presence of calcium carbide content in the stocks of fruits. Though a few apples coated in paracrine wax were recovered, the raid ended on a positive note as the officials confirmed zero usage of the same.
The ill-effects of Calcium Carbide
Ripening is the final stage of the maturation process, when the fruit changes color, softens and develops the flavor, texture and aroma that constitute optimum eating quality. This study was conducted to discuss the use of unsatisfactory calcium carbide to ripen fruits for domestic markets as well as their toxic effects on human health. The commonly used ripening agents are calcium carbide, acetylene, ethylene, propylene, ethrel (2-chloroethyl phosphonic acid), glycol, ethanol and some other agents. The calcium carbide is one of the most commonly used ripening agent for fruits, while other calcium salts like calcium ammonium nitrate, calcium chloride and calcium sulfate are used to delay fruit ripening agents for local fruit industries. The use of calcium carbide is being discouraged worldwide, due to associated health hazards. Calcium carbide treatment of food is extremely hazardous because it contains traces of arsenic and phosphorous, and once dissolved in water, it produces acetylene gas. Arsenic, phosphorous and acetylene gas may affect the different body organs and causes various health problems like headache, dizziness, mood disturbances, sleepiness, mental confusion, memory loss, cerebral edema, seizures and prolonged hypoxia. (Asif M, 2012)
The team led by assistant food controller Hanumanthu Rao, the officials in eight groups conducted the checks. Apart from the warehouses, various shops in the market were also inspected. The officials also sensitised the traders and shopkeepers over the adverse effects of the chemical usage. District food safety officer Sheikh Ghouse Mohinuddin said: “Some samples of paracrine waxed apples which we found during the raid have been sent for testing. But overall we are happy with the fact that none of the traders has been using carbide.”
Raids to check carbide usage will continue
However, the officials announced that the raid would be continued as the mango season was nearing. The traders will be booked on the spot if any adulteration is found, officials added.
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Source: New Indian Express