Latest Trending News

FSSAI Enforces Ban on Calcium Carbide for Fruit Ripening

New Delhi: As the mango season approaches, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has issued a stern warning to traders, fruit handlers, and Food Business Operators (FBOs) operating ripening chambers. The regulatory body has mandated strict adherence to the ban on using calcium carbide for artificial ripening of fruits, particularly mangoes. The FSSAI has also urged state and union territory Food Safety Departments to remain vigilant and take stringent action against violators in accordance with the Food Safety and Standards (FSS) Act, 2006, and its accompanying rules and regulations.

Calcium carbide, a common agent used for ripening fruits, releases acetylene gas containing harmful traces of arsenic and phosphorus, substances known as ‘Masala.’ These can cause severe health issues, including dizziness, frequent thirst, irritation, weakness, difficulty swallowing, vomiting, and skin ulcers. The gas is also hazardous to those handling it, as calcium carbide can leave residues of arsenic and phosphorus on the fruits during application.

The use of calcium carbide for fruit ripening has been banned under Regulation 2.3.5 of the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restrictions on Sales) Regulations, 2011. The regulation explicitly states, “No person shall sell or offer or expose for sale or have in his premises for the purpose of sale under any description, fruits which have been artificially ripened by use of acetylene gas, commonly known as carbide gas.”

To combat the dangerous and illegal use of calcium carbide, FSSAI has approved ethylene gas as a safer alternative for fruit ripening in India. Ethylene gas can be used at concentrations up to 100 ppm (100 μl/L), depending on the crop, variety, and maturity. Ethylene, a naturally occurring hormone in fruits, regulates the ripening process by initiating and controlling a series of chemical and biochemical activities. The application of ethylene gas to unripe fruits triggers the natural ripening process, until the fruit itself begins to produce ethylene in significant quantities.

Additionally, the Central Insecticides Board and Registration Committee (CIB & RC) has approved Ethephon 39% SL for the uniform ripening of mangoes and other fruits.

FSSAI has also released a comprehensive guidance document titled “Artificial Ripening of Fruits – Ethylene gas a safe fruit ripener,” which provides detailed procedures for the artificial ripening of fruits using ethylene gas. This document includes a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) covering all aspects of artificial ripening by ethylene gas, such as restrictions, requirements for ripening systems/chambers, handling conditions, sources of ethylene gas, protocols for application, post-treatment operations, and safety guidelines.

Consumers who notice any use of calcium carbide or other improper practices in artificial ripening are encouraged to report these violations to the State Commissioners of Food Safety. Details for these officials can be found at: Commissioners of Food Safety.

Comments are closed.