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NEW DELHI: The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has asked the States and Union Territories to ensure prevention of use of carbide gas for premature ripening of fruits.
Citing Rule 44-AA that prohibits the use of carbide gas, a circular issued by the Authority to the Commissioners of Food Safety has asked them to keep a strict vigil, and initiate action under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, 1955 on any violation.
The circular was issued following concerns expressed by Minister of State for Health and Family Welfare Dinesh Trivedi over the blatant use of carbide gas by traders and retailers to ensure a regular supply of fruits.
Mr. Trivedi, in a note to the Union Health and Family Welfare Secretary, had pointed out that traders used all kinds of unscrupulous methods, including using calcium carbide and other chemicals to make the fruit look attractive, notwithstanding the fact that the genetics of fruits were being compromised, as was the health of millions of consumers.
The problem is more severe in the case of mangoes and bananas, and sometimes apples, papayas, guavas, pears and plums. It is suspected that even water melons and melons are ripened artificially.
This practice is banned under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act, and violators are liable to undergo a six-month imprisonment and pay a fine of Rs 1,000. But traders or retailers are rarely booked.
Calcium carbide, popularly known as ‘masala', has carcinogenic properties and is used in gas welding for steel goods.
It causes mouth ulcers, gastric irritation and even food poisoning. Other practices include dipping fruits in a solution of ethephon or exposing fruits to ethylene gas, Mr Trivedi said.
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