Don't fall for the apple that looks firm and fresh, because when we took the month old apple, which had been lying undisturbed in the corner of the shelf in our office, we realised the freshness was not even skin deep.
Many traders are under scrutiny for violating the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act. This has been a recurring problem which the consumers have been facing in the years.
The Hyderabad high court, on August 20, has ordered a crackdown on traders in the markets who layer green vegetables with copper sulfate and chemical dye. The combination can be quite lethal, starting with gastrointestinal infections, if these artificially propped up veggies are consumed on a regular basis.
People go gaga during the mango season. The practice of speeding up the ripening of the fruits so that the sellers can meet the demand is an old one. It orginally involved exposing harvested fruits to ethylene gas that was emitted by the peels of fruits and vegetables stored in a box.
Little do people know about the mangoes they consume today, may have been artificially ripened using Calcium Carbide sachets in the trader's go-downs. This makes the mangoes look robust, pulpiness, aroma and also cuts down the period the fruit takes to ripe naturally. Calcium carbide which is said to have the same effect as ethylene is also used to ripe and give a cosmetic quality to bananas, papaya and sapota (or chiku).
If the sellers can use illegal practice to boost their sales of mangoes then they surely are not sparing one of the most consumed fruit, the apple. Shining apples with bee wax is an old practice to match the luster of a Kashmiri or a Washington apple, but vendors use paraffin wax to cut costs. The regular consumption of such apples can lead to serious stomach diseases as the adulteration may create a layer on the intestine. Arsenic acid, a highly lethal substance, was found in the coating used on apples.
The dark red colour in watermelons that promise good taste can also be just eyewash. The melons are injected with Erythrosine-B or Red-3, a cherry-pink synthetic to give the watermelon pulp the desired colour.
Grapes which are already prone to pests are firstly sprayed with pesticide and secondly ripened by using concentrated chemicals.
Malachite green a chemical dye that is used in silk, paper and leather industries is now used on vegetables especially green chillies and peas.
Gourds and cucumbers and other green vegetables are layered with copper sulfate, a crystalline blue dye, which gives the vegetables a fresh green looks. Continuous consumption of the adulterated vegetables can cause gastrointestinal infections and can also lead to death.
Many farmers are taking to these illegal practices as the water they use for irrigation purposes is polluted and takes away the freshness and the shine that the produce must naturally contain.
And here is a useful article on how to detect and avoid artificially ripened fruits.