Friday, 15 April 2011

Calcium carbide: Artificial ripening of food is banned

Syed Akbar
Hyderabad, April: Ban on use of calcium carbide for artificial ripening of fruits notwithstanding, traders increasingly use the harmful chemical to give yellowish tinge to mangoes, bananas and papayas.
With local authorities failing to check the menace, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India has cautioned people to be selective about mangoes this summer. Andhra Pradesh is considered as the mango bowl of India and most of the produce is ripened through artificial sources, putting the health of people at risk.
In its advisory on the harmful effects of artificial ripening of fruits, particularly mangoes and bananas, the FSSAI warns that use of calcium carbide, which gives yellow colour to fruits, will create problems for the brain and nervous system.
For fruit sugars in mango it takes 105 to 120 days to ripen. But to hasten the process, immature raw mangoes are ripened artificially using ethylene gas, obtained through calcium carbine. The fruit gets the yellow colour, but since the fruit sugars remain immature, it does not taste sweet.
"Calcium carbide is a neurotic agent and causes neurological disorders. It can result in tingling sensation, numbness and peripheral neuropathy. If pregnant women consume fruit ripened with carbide, the children born could have developmental abnormalities," observes Dr Vijay Anand P Reddy, director, Apollo Cancer Hospital.
The Central government has banned use of calcium carbide for artificial ripening of fruits, but unscrupulous traders continue to use it in market yards. Besides calcium carbide, harmful agents like ethephon and oxytocin are increasingly used in fruit and vegetable markets for artificial ripening of fruits and to increase their size and 
texture.
While calcium carbide causes cancers, ethephon is a harmful pesticide.Oxytocin is a mammalian hormone, used as a drug in veterinary services which is not advised for use in fresh fruits and vegetables. Ethylene gas is a fruit ripening plant hormone and its concentration should not exceed 0.01 per cent.
During natural ripening, a wide spectrum of biochemical changes takes place such as increased respiration, chlorophyll degradation, biosynthesis of carotenoids, anthocyanins, essential oils, and flavour and aroma components. "But all these healthy chemical changes do not take place with artificial ripening. Artificial ripeners contain traces of arsenic and phosphorus," say Suneetha Sapur, senior nutritionist and director 
of Akshaya Foundation.

1 comment:

nithya said...

sir can you say what are the changes that takes place for the fruit to ripen does the sugar compounds will change sir i want to know the detail for sir . can you please tell me what is happening sir u can mail to my id sir nithyaram16@gmail.com
i am eagerly
waiting for your reply sir

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