In the past one month, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has destroyed 26,000 kg of mangoes from across Maharashtra as they had been ripened artificially using chemicals that have cancer-causing properties. The mangoes were seized from warehouses in Mumbai, Thane, Navi Mumbai, Pune, Akola, and Aurangabad. The value of the destroyed fruits is estimated to be around Rs.2 crore. The FDA and the Food and Safety Standards of India (FSSI) Act prohibits the use of chemical agents to speed up the ripening of mangoes. The FDA states that calcium carbide is carcinogenic and can also cause neurological disorders. In pregnant women it can harm the foetus. The practice of ripening fruits using carbide is banned in many other countries. “Our food officers across the state inspected various fruit warehouses and found that traders were using the chemical to ripen the fruit, in violation of the food safety law,” said FDA commissioner Mahesh Zhagde. “Carbide is a gas used in welding works. Its harmful effects are well-known,” said SS Kale, assistant drugs commissioner, FDA. Experts said calcium carbide only aides in changing the colour of the mangoes, it does not ripen them. “It is important for consumers to learn to identify a naturally ripened fruit and a fruit processed with carbide. A carbide-ripened fruit will be yellowish in colour and without wrinkles.” Said Zhagde. “The seized mangoes were destroyed using a compactor,” said KV Sankhe, assistant food commissioner, FDA.
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