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Artificial ripening of fruits poses health hazards to consumers.

ISLAMABAD -- While the Islamabad Capital Territory Administration is so proactive on social media and sharing its daily actions taken for the welfare of community, the fruit vendors are selling artificially ripened fruits in the federal capital markets with impunity.

The fruit sellers were posing health risk to the public life by selling chemically ripened fruits in the city without knowing its repercussions, the consumers blamed.

'The use of different chemicals to ripen the fruits may accelerate the fruits sales or boost the businesses but it is the death which was selling by those shopkeepers,' Ahmed Hassan, a consumer shopping at Aabpara Market claimed.

He urged the Islamabad Capital Territory (ICT) administration to keep check on the quality of fruits being sold in the markets and rectify the situation in order to provide better quality fruits.

Umar Khan Nasar purchasing fruits in Peshawer Morr Bazar, claimed that the outer skin of fruits ripened through illegal means may attracted the customer but in fact it were carrying high acidity and low sugar content.

The poorly developed flavor was hazardous as it may contain traces of arsenic and phosphorus hydride, he added.

Babar Saleem, a farmer revealing the methods of artificial ripening told reporter that, fruits were being matured through commercial methods like calcium carbide wrapped in a cloth or newspaper placed at the bottom of the basket.

In order to increase the basket temperature and maintain humidity, the basket was also covered with strong craft paper, he explained.

Saleem said in developed countries, fruits were commercially ripened in an artificial chamber having no health hazards, but unfortunately in Pakistan, the departments concerned were not providing any facility to the farmers in this regard.

The use of ethylene for this purpose was not harmful for human consumption but these compounds were expensive while Calcium Carbide in the country was available on cheap rates.

Rana Munir, a fruit trader at I-11 fruit market said that the commercial ripening was an essential part of their business. 'We pick raw fruits and use certain methods to increase their shelf life.'

He said acetylene gas was an analogue of ethylene that accelerated the ripening process.

Dr Waseem Khawaja from Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) said that early symptoms of arsenic and phosphorus poisoning included vomiting, diarrhea with or without blood, burning sensation in the chest and abdomen, thirst, weakness and difficulty in swallowing and speaking.

He said that other harmful effects of chemical food included shivering of the legs and hands, cold and damp skin and low blood pressure, and can become fatal if not treated in time.

Dr Amjad, a nutritionist at the National Institute of Health (NIH), recommended better technique for artificial ripening of fruits and vegetables to prevent direct contact of the substance with fruits.

When contacted ICT administration, it said teams were paying regular visits throughout the city to ensure the quality of edibles items, besides monitoring their prices. The vendors were also being fined for violating the laws.

He asked the citizens to lodge complaints against the violators.

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Publication:Balochistan Times (Baluchistan Province, Pakistan)
Date:Jul 31, 2019
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