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Artificial Ripening Of Fruits: Watch Before You Eat!

Posted on July 6, 2011 in Health and Life

By Aditi Mishra:

Summer is at its peak and it’s the season when almost everyone’s favourite fruit, that is mango, finds most takers. We find it too difficult to resist the temptation of this savoury fruit as soon as it hits in the market. But wait, the fruit which appeals to you the most may not be natural as you thought; it might be artificially ripened. And it is not the mangoes alone; other fruits too are artificially preserved and ripened.

In order to ensure regular supply of fruits, the traders are constantly under pressure to stock fruits much before their due time of arrival in the market. This leads to adopting illicit means to ripen fruits and chemicals to make them look captivating and fresh. However, the fact not attended is that genetics of fruits get undermined in the process, thus risking the health of the millions of consumers. So the fruit which brings water to your mouth might just be laced with chemicals.

The most afflicted fruits are mangoes and banana but other fruits like apples, papaya, guavas, plums etc are not far behind. These fruits are losing their taste, aroma, and nutrition value, even when they have a uniform and attractive colour.

Such unscrupulous practise of artificial ripening has been banned by Prevention of Food Adulteration Act (⇧), and violators are even liable to be subjected for a six-month imprisonment and pay a fine of Rs 1,000. But the bitter truth is that cases against such traders hardly have any results. We at times see “breaking news” on this issue but that is just not enough unless stern action is not taken up by the authorities against such adulteration. The authorities have consistently failed to devise any plan of action to check such malpractices.

There are various methods employed to ripen fruits, but the most popular and cheap agent is calcium carbide. It gets preference as it makes the whole process of ripening  simple. The fruits ripened with calcium carbide are extremely soft, almost tasteless and have shorter shelf life. Results of eating such fruits vary from person to person. One may end up with black blotches on skin, mouth ulcers, gastric irritation or even food poisoning.

Natural ripening is a continuous process and there is no single point of time when a fruit can be universally declared as “ripe”. Even these natural fruits needs to be stored in the right way. But such practices are barely being exercised. The concerned departments refuse to acknowledge the gravity of problem and need for corrective action. They must thoroughly try to bring about a change in their policies and firmly act against such practices.

The common people too need to be more vigilant while they buy fruits. They must avoid buying fruits which are not in season. They should never purchase fruits solely on the appearance as it can be quite deceptive. For example, a bunch of bananas having a uniform colour is likely to have been artificially ripened; a guava which is extremely pink on the inside has very high chances of being chemically riped. Once the fruits have been bought they must be completely washed off to ensure that no chemical remains on them. Fruits like mangoes and apple must be cut into pieces instead of being consumed directly. Such little things should be kept in mind.

So better watch out before eating your favourite fruit.