For decades, artificial fruit-ripening agents such as calcium carbide and Ethylene have been used by fruit sellers and merchants to ripen fruits but with the recent raid on fruit markets, the tendency may be checked.
The District Health Department had yesterday raided fruit markets near Vallah and the Hall gate and seized Ethylene.
However, the department’s team had failed to check all shops, as shopkeepers had fled after shutting down their shops.
While the law has banned the use of calcium carbide to ripen fruits, as it is a known carcinogenic substance, the use of Ethylene is permissible only within limits.
Medical experts believe that artificially ripened fruits are less healthy and in fact harmful for consumption in comparison to naturally ripened fruits.
Assistant Food Commissioner Rajinderpal Singh said, “The fruits that have a uniform colour are more likely to be artificially ripened. Naturally ripened fruits are not uniform in colour; they are patchy.” He said washing and peeling fruits may reduce the harms of calcium carbide, but it is better to avoid such fruits.
Health officials say that small concentration of Ethylene in the air is sufficient to fasten the ripening process. Fruits such as apple, banana, mango, papaya, guava and many others are ripened this way.
Rajinderpal Singh said though the appearance of artificially ripened fruits improves, the taste and the smell are impaired after fruits harvested early are subjected to artificially ripening agents.
The Assistant Food Commissioner said calcium carbide was a carcinogen, which was known to cause cancer. He said the substance is also harmful for liver and other body parts. The substance also contains traces of arsenic and phosphorous hydride.