FSSAI alerts fruit traders against use of calcium carbide to ripen fruit

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has alerted fruit traders and handlers to strictly ensure compliance with the prohibition on calcium carbide for artificial ripening of fruits, particularly during the mango season. The Food Safety Departments of States /UTs are also being advised to remain vigilant and take serious action and deal stringently against person(s) indulging in such unlawful practices as per the provisions of FSS Act, 2006 and Rules/Regulations made thereunder.

Calcium carbide, commonly used for ripening fruits like mangoes, releases acetylene gas which contains harmful traces of arsenic and phosphorus and can cause serious health issues such as dizziness, frequent thirst, irritation, weakness, difficulty in swallowing, vomiting and skin ulcers, etc. Additionally, acetylene gas is equally hazardous to those handling it. There are chances that calcium carbide may come in direct contact with fruits during application and leave residues of arsenic and phosphorus on fruits.

Due to these dangers, the use of calcium carbide for ripening fruits has been banned under Regulation 2.3.5 of the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restrictions on Sales) Regulations, 2011.

FSSAI has permitted the use of ethylene gas as a safer alternative for fruit ripening in India. Ethylene gas can be used at concentrations up to 100 ppm (100 μl/L), depending upon the crop, variety and maturity. It is a naturally occurring hormone in fruits which regulates the ripening process by initiating and controlling a series of chemical and biochemical activities.


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