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FSSAI Issues Warning Against Calcium Carbide Use for Fruit Ripening

FSSAI's proactive measures aim to safeguard public health by curbing the hazardous practice of calcium carbide usage in fruit ripening.

Shivam Dwivedi
FSSAI Issues Warning Against Calcium Carbide Use for Fruit Ripening During Mango Season (Image Source: Pexels)
FSSAI Issues Warning Against Calcium Carbide Use for Fruit Ripening During Mango Season (Image Source: Pexels)

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has issued a stringent warning to traders, fruit handlers, and Food Business Operators (FBOs) regarding the use of calcium carbide for artificial ripening of fruits, especially during the mango season. The advisory underscores the necessity for strict adherence to regulations prohibiting the use of calcium carbide, emphasizing the health hazards associated with its use.

Risks Associated with Calcium Carbide Usage

Calcium carbide, commonly utilized in fruit ripening processes, releases acetylene gas containing harmful traces of arsenic and phosphorus, colloquially known as 'Masala'. These substances pose severe health risks, including dizziness, frequent thirst, irritation, weakness, difficulty in swallowing, vomiting, and skin ulcers. Moreover, acetylene gas exposure poses hazards to individuals handling it, with the potential for residues of arsenic and phosphorus to remain on fruits post-application.

Regulation 2.3.5 of the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restrictions on Sales) Regulations, 2011, unequivocally prohibits the sale or exposure for sale of fruits artificially ripened using acetylene gas. In light of rampant calcium carbide usage, FSSAI has sanctioned ethylene gas as a safer alternative for fruit ripening in India. Ethylene, a natural hormone in fruits, facilitates the ripening process by initiating and regulating biochemical activities.

FSSAI has authorized the use of ethylene gas at concentrations up to 100 ppm, depending on the crop, variety, and maturity. Ethylene gas treatment accelerates the natural ripening process until fruits produce ethylene in substantial quantities. Additionally, the Central Insecticides Board and Registration Committee (CIB & RC) have approved Ethephon 39% SL for uniform mango ripening and other fruits.

Guidance for Food Business Operators

To facilitate the transition to ethylene gas ripening, FSSAI has released a comprehensive guidance document titled "Artificial Ripening of Fruits - Ethylene gas a safe fruit ripener." This document delineates a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) encompassing all aspects of fruit ripening by ethylene gas, including restrictions, chamber requirements, handling protocols, ethylene gas sources, post-treatment operations, and safety guidelines.

Consumers encountering the use of calcium carbide or any improper ripening practices are encouraged to report such instances to the respective State Commissioners of Food Safety. Detailed information regarding State Commissioners of Food Safety for all States/UTs is available on the FSSAI website.

Read the full guidance document here.

Find details of Commissioners of Food Safety for all States/UTs here.

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