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AAM AADMI cheats When.

When calcium in the The with newspaper kept like Calcium moisture and produces The substance ripening Acetylene cutting -can comes flame IT'S the perfect season to dig into luscious mangoes, but think twice before you reach out for the king of fruits. Ripened artificially with calcium carbide, these mangoes put you at the risk of headache, dizziness, sleep disorders and even memory loss.

For the past few weeks, Azadpur market -one of the biggest wholesale fruit markets in the country -is flooded with a variety of mangoes.

More than 4 lakh kg of the fruit is reaching the mandi daily, according to traders. Of this, 3 lakh kg is sold in Delhi only.

To know the reality behind artificial ripening of mangoes, M AIL T ODAY visited the Azadpur fruits market and found that calcium carbide is widely used to give the fruit a robust look, pulpiness and aroma and to subvert the period it takes for mangoes to ripen naturally. The traders confessed that the chemical is used to ripen about 80 per cent of mangoes reaching the market, before they find their way to the retailers, and that there is hardly any monitoring by the authorities to check this practice. Ingestion of calcium carbide, a harmful chemical popularly called ' masala' in the market, can affect the neurological system.

But the visit to Azadpur presented a clear picture. Thousands of cartons -containing green, hard and fresh mangoes -reached the market from different parts of the country. In the same complex, some people were selling masala' in small sachets, each packet costing ` 2 or 3.

Mango traders buy this ' masala' and use it for quick ripening of the fruit by adding a sachet at every layer of mangoes in cartons.

This is the only way to quickly ripen the mangoes,"a trader said.

People would not buy it green.

But after adding ' masala', all mangoes in a carton will ripen, turn yellow and be ready to eat Farmers there pluck it prematurely because in that condition the fruit is more resistant to damage during handling, transportation and storage. Doing it otherwise will incur huge losses for all concerned in the business.

Ripe fruits are softer and, therefore, more prone to damage,"a dealer at the Azadpur market said.

Though the use of calcium carbide in fruits is banned, the practice continues unhindered in the wholesale market. Asked about the fear of authorities for using the banned ' masala', a trader smugly said: " Nothing happens. Local officials are aware of all this, but we take care of them. This has been going on for years."The traders admit that though laws are already there, there is lack of enforcement in the city.

" The use of carbide is banned by the government under Prevention of Food Adulteration rules but the authorities hardly enforce it. Due to their disinterest, middlemen are easily making money out of this,"a trader said.

Azadpur wholesale market president Rajender Sharma said people have now become more aware and ask only for naturally ripened mangoes. " Also, multinational stores never purchase carbideripened fruits. There are a few ripening chambers where mangoes are ripened through ethylene.

I think it will take a few more years before forced ripening of fruits will stop,"he added.

within a day,"he added.

Another trader said the plucked mangoes can't ripe on their own and if they didn't use carbide, most of the yield would be destroyed and lead to heavy losses.

The traders claimed that they have no option but to use the chemical for ripening the fruit.

" Mangoes generally come from Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, UP, Maharashtra, West Bengal and other faraway states.

Ripened artificially with calcium carbide, mangoes put you at the risk of headache, dizziness, sleep disorders and even memory loss This ( using calcium carbide) is the only way to quickly ripen mangoes.

People would not buy them green. Masala makes them yellow in a day.

-Trader at Azadpur Mandi ' ' Mangoes generally come from faraway states.

Farmers there pluck it prematurely because in that condition the fruit is more resistant to damage.


METHODS TO ARTIFICIALLY RIPEN MANGOES About half a closed fist of calcium carbide is wrapped in a newspaper and placed in the bottom of a big container.

Mangoes are then arranged carefully inside.

When it is a large container, calcium carbide is usually placed in the middle and on the top.

The fruit file is then covered with newspaper and plastic. It is kept like that for 24 hours.

Calcium carbide reacts with the moisture inside the mangoes and produces acetylene gas.

The substance is similar to ripening inducer ethylene.

Acetylene -a gas used in metal cutting with a concentrated flame -can result in an explosion if it comes in contact with a naked flame and is enough to bring

down a whole market. People in the vicinity can suffer up to 80 per cent burns.

IDENTIFYING THE CHEMICALLY RIPENED MANGOES COLOUR: An artificially ripened fruit will have patches and unnaturally bright colour. It looks very juicy from the outside.

TASTE: Sometimes taste also differs and one can feel a burning sensation in the mouth due to the traces of the chemical used to ripen the mango.

BUOYANCY: Such mangoes float easily in water. Also, their outer surface is usually wrinkled.

THE HARM IT DOES CALCIUM carbide contains traces of arsenic and phosphorus. Once dissolved in water, it produces acetylene gas that affects the neurological system, resulting in headache, dizziness, mood disturbances, sleepiness, mental confusion and seizures on a short- term basis, while in the long term, it can even cause memory loss.

WHAT THE LAW SAYS USE of carbide, better known as ' masala', has been going on despite a ban on it.

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India regulations say: " The use of carbide gas in ripening of fruits is prohibited under the subregulations 2.3.5 of the food safety and standards ( prohibition and restriction on sales) Regulation, 2011."There is a provision of penalty or imprisonment with penalty for the persons who store/ sell/ distribute/ import any article for consumption which is unsafe.

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Publication:Mail Today (New Delhi, India)
Date:Jun 28, 2015
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