FSSAI Warns Fruit Vendors About Using Dangerous Calcium Carbide to Ripen Mangoes

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has issued a warning to traders, fruit handlers, and Food Business Operators (FBOs) to ensure strict compliance with the ban on using dangerous calcium carbide for artificially ripening fruits, especially during the mango season.

FSSAI recently seized 575 kg of mangoes valued at Rs 72,000 from fruit stalls in Coimbatore. The mangoes were discovered to have been ripened using ethylene sachets in a manner that was not approved.

These substances, commonly referred to as ‘masala’, have the potential to result in severe health problems including dizziness, frequent thirst, irritation, weakness, difficulty swallowing, vomiting, skin ulcers, and more. Furthermore, acetylene gas poses a significant danger to individuals who are in contact with it.

During the application of calcium carbide, there is a possibility that it may directly contact fruits and leave behind residues of arsenic and phosphorus.

Acetylene gas, which is released by calcium carbide, a substance often employed to ripen fruits such as mangoes, contains hazardous amounts of arsenic and phosphorus.

Authorities have prohibited the use of calcium carbide for fruit ripening due to safety concerns, as outlined in Regulation 2.3.5 of the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restrictions on Sales) Regulations, 2011.

The regulation clearly states that it is prohibited for anyone to sell, offer, display for sale, or have on their premises for sale any fruits that have been artificially ripened using acetylene gas, also known as carbide gas.

The FSSAI has also recommended that the food safety departments of states and Union Territories stay alert, take strong measures, and enforce strict actions against individuals involved in illegal activities, under the FSS Act of 2006 and relevant rules and regulations.

Due to the widespread use of prohibited calcium carbide, FSSAI has authorized ethylene gas as a safer option for fruit ripening in India.

Using Dangerous Calcium Carbide, FSSAI

Officials explained that exposing unripe fruits to ethylene gas initiates the natural ripening process until the fruit begins to produce ethylene on its own in significant amounts.

Additionally, the Central Insecticides Board and Registration Committee (CIB & RC) have approved the use of Ethephon 39% SL to facilitate the consistent ripening of mangoes and other fruits.

Depending on the crop, variety, and maturity, ethylene gas can be utilized at concentrations of up to 100 ppm (100 μl/L).

The FSSAI has released a detailed guidance document recommending that food business operators adhere to the procedure for artificially ripening fruits.

This document details the standard operating procedure (SOP) for the artificial ripening of fruits using ethylene gas. It includes information on restrictions, requirements for the ethylene ripening system/chamber, handling conditions, sources of ethylene gas, protocols for applying ethylene gas from different sources, post-treatment operations, safety guidelines, and more.

Authorities have also stated that if consumers observe the use of calcium carbide or any improper methods of using ripening agents for artificial fruit ripening, they should report it to the relevant State Commissioners of Food Safety for appropriate action against those responsible.


🎖️ Food Technology Training Course
Implementation of HACCP in the Food Industry.

Date : 18 May 2023

Time : 10 AM to 05 PM

Faculty : Asmita Thaokar (FSSAI National Level Resource Person)

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