With a new range of fruits hitting the market, Food Safety and Standards Association of India (FSSAI) has asked states, including J&K to ensure that fruits available in markets are not being ripened using banned and dangerous chemicals. “Commissioners of Food Safety of all states/UTs are hereby directed to initiate effective surveillance and enforcement activities to rule out any possibility of ripening the fruits with the aid of harmful and banned substances viz.
calcium carbide or acetylene gas. They are also advised to do a similar exercise for vegetables to check the level of pesticides,” FSSAI said in a recent order. Calcium carbide and acetylene gas are banned due to their carcinogenic nature but are suspected to be used for fast ripening of fruits such as water melon, musk melon, bananas, grapes and papayas.
Calcium carbide is commonly referred to as ‘masala’ by fruit vendors and was banned by FSSA Regulations of 2011.
“Despite prohibition on sale of artificially ripened fruits by using calcium carbide, the prevalence of such ripened fruits in the market is a serious cause for concern and needs to be tackled effectively,” the order reads, urging food safety commissioners to ensure fruit is free of artificial ripening.