The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) on Thursday urged the food commissioners of all states and Union Territories (UTs) to take action against the illegal use of artificial fruit ripening agents. Food regulators warn against using agents such as calcium carbide to cook fruit.
The artificial ripening of fruit is controlled to reach an optimal level of ripeness before it is received by the consumer and allows this fruit to be stored for longer. For example, mangoes are picked soft and damaged during the logistics process. Therefore, they are transported unripe and then artificially cooked in the destination market.
Is artificial maturation harmful?
The use of calcium carbide, one of the harmful artificial fruit growing agents, has been banned under the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restriction of Sale) Regulations, 2011.
Calcium carbide, also known as masala, is commonly used in the mining and metallurgical industries to produce acetylene gas. It is a highly reactive compound that releases acetylene gas, which is used to artificially grow fruit. However, its use can have serious health effects.
The use of ‘masala’ in fruits is highly toxic and can cause health problems such as breathing problems and skin irritation which can cause cancer. The FSSAI has warned that the use of these chemical compounds may lead to the release of toxic arsenic and phosphorus in the environment. Despite some warnings, masala has been used many times as an artificial fruit growing agent. This is done because it is a cheaper and easier method.