Ethephon and calcium carbide are being widely used to artificially ripen all types of fruit, making them unsafe for human consumption, results of random tests conducted by food safety authorities have shown.

Food inspectors have been conducting raids across the State, and of the 140 fruit samples seized between last August and February this year, 72 were found unsafe for consumption.

The fruit which showed unsafe levels of chemicals included bananas, sapotas, grapes, pineapples and strawberries.

This has shown that the practice of artificial ripening is not limited to mangoes and apples, as earlier thought.

“The consumer movement should be strengthened by the government through involvement of consumers. Additionally, the execution of the law should be non-compromising,” says V.B.J. Chelikani Rao of United Federation for Residential Welfare Societies.

While chemical testing is the only way to categorically determine whether artificial ripening agents have been used, the layman can conduct some simple tests just to stay on the safe side.
For instance, stay away from shiny apples. Scratch the surface of an apple to check for the presence of wax.

Similarly, bananas which look ripe and yellow on the outside, but turn out to be raw when peeled, are likely to have been subjected to artificial ripening.

White deposits on the surface of fruits point to the use of calcium carbide.


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