FSSAI warns against calcium carbide for fruit ripening due to health risks, urging use of approved methods. Non-compliance may lead to strict actions. Learn more about safe fruit ripening in this blog.
Understanding Artificial Ripening of Fruits
Artificial ripening is a controlled process used to ripen fruits to achieve desired outcomes, such as optimal ripeness, better consumer acceptance, and increased shelf life.
This process is commonly used for transporting fruits, such as mangoes, over long distances.
FSSAI Prohibits Use of Calcium Carbide as a Harmful Ripening Agent
According to a statement from the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), the use of calcium carbide, also known as ‘Masala’, as a ripening agent for fruits is strictly prohibited under the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restrictions on Sales) Regulation, 2011.
The food agency also warns that acetylene gas, released during the ripening process with calcium carbide, is hazardous to handlers and poses serious health risks to consumers.
In this context, the FSSAI emphasises the importance of adhering to approved methods for fruit ripening that prioritise safety and health.
FSSAI issues strict guidelines on artificial ripening of fruits
The guidelines stipulate that they must comply strictly with the directions and avoid using any prohibited material or using approved sources of ethylene incorrectly when artificially ripening fruits.
The FSSAI has warned that serious action will be taken against anyone who violates these guidelines, in accordance with the provisions of the FSS Act, 2006 and related regulations.
The FSSAI emphasised that ripening of fruits is a natural process that enhances their nutritional value and makes them safe for consumption.
FSSAI Recommends Ethylene as Safe Ripening Agent for Fruits
The regulatory body cited concerns that the chemical may leave residues of arsenic and phosphorus on the fruits if it comes into direct contact with them during the application process.
Therefore, the FSSAI has approved the use of ethylene as a safe ripening agent at a concentration of up to 100 ppm (100μl/L), depending on the crop, variety, and maturity, through sources like ethephon and ethereal.
The application of ethylene gas to unripe fruits triggers the ripening process until the fruit itself begins to produce large amounts of ethylene, the statement added.
FSSAI Urges Reporting of Misuse of Ripening Agents
The FSSAI has directed that any material used for artificial ripening should not come into direct contact with the fruits.
To facilitate this, a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) has already been issued by the regulator, outlining all aspects of fruit ripening using ethylene gas.
It is available at: FSSAI SOP on ripening of fruits
Additionally, the FSSAI has encouraged consumers to report any misuse of ripening agents, such as the use of calcium carbide (Masala), to their respective State Commissioners of Food Safety.
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