Useful tips as we indulge in some aamsutra

Features Thursday, April 30, 2015 - 05:30
Mango season has begun, and we bet you are waiting to get the first carton home to spend the whole day relishing them. But be careful, lurking among those juicy mangoes are the not so healthy ones. Mango traders have started increasingly using calcium carbide to ripen them artificially.  Calcium Carbide, a dangerous and corrosive chemical used to make fertilizers and steel, is known to have carcinogenic properties and cause digestive problems. Yet, it is still widely used to ripen mangoes quickly. Farmers tend to pluck mangoes early as they need to be transported to the market. Once it is in the market, mango traders ripen them artificially to clear their stocks sooner. Moreover, the fruits look more attractive when they are artificially ripened garnering more consumers. But calcium carbide can cause cancer, permanent eye damage, ulcers and even lung issues. Read more about it here. Here is how you can spot them. Source: FSSAI Officials from the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) are trying to reduce this trend and crack down on offenders. Shivakumar, Joint Director, FSSAI Karnataka says, “The officials are visiting godowns that store mangoes and are educating the traders regarding the hazards of artificial ripening. As the season has just begun we haven’t received any complaints yet, but we have begun visiting these godowns.” Artificial ripening of fruits was banned under the Food Safety and Standards Act (FSSA), 2006. But recently, the Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) made it an offence under Section 328 (causing hurt by means of poison, etc., with intent to commit an offence) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). With this, the culprits will not be able to get a bail, and in case of conviction will face imprisonment up to 10 years.  “Using substances like Calcium Carbide doesn’t really ripen the mango. It only helps to change its colour to yellow faster,” says Manjunath G, President of Association of Food Scientists & Technologists. Manjunath also recommends waiting for the peak mango season to buy the summer fruit. “Mangoes enter the market in the end of March, but at this time they are usually artificially ripened.  The consumers should wait till the end of April to get the naturally ripened ones.” Washing the mangoes thoroughly and not consuming the skin can help minimize the impact of the artificial ingredients. Consumers can lodge a complaints to, or call the toll free number 180042513825.
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