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FSSAI Warns Against Calcium Carbide in Fruit Ripening

This Compliance Alert focuses on the fruit handlers.
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has warned the fruit traders, handlers, and FBOs using ripening chambers for the use of calcium carbide for artificial ripening particularly during the mango period. The FSSAI is appealing to the state and UT Food Safety Departments to be alert and act tough against defaulters under the FSS Act 2006 along with its rules and regulations.

Calcium carbide is a chemical compound with the formula CaC2 and contains health hazards that include the following:
Calcium carbide which is used in the ripening of fruits such as mangoes emits acetylene gas which contains toxic elements of arsenic as well as phosphorus. These substances are called ‘Masala’; they are dangerous for human health as they lead to dizziness, thirst, irritation, weakness, problems with swallowing, vomiting, and skin ulcers. Also, acetylene gas has risks to handlers; some of the risks include the presence of residues on fruits if calcium carbide comes into direct contact with them.

Calcium carbide is prohibited by law in many countries due to the dangers it poses to human health.
Calcium carbide is prohibited under Regulation 2 for use in fruit ripening. 3. Five of the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restrictions on Sales) Regulations of 2011. This regulation specifically bans the sale, offer, and display of fruits that have been artificially ripened by using acetylene gas, otherwise known as carbide gas.

Safer Alternatives: Ethylene Gas
FSSAI approves the use of ethylene gas for fruit ripening and allows its use at concentrations of up to 100 ppm depending on the crop type, variety, and ripeness level. Ethylene is a naturally occurring hormone found in fruits and it is responsible for initiating and regulating the ripening process by triggering chemical and biochemical processes. Fruits that are treated with ethylene gas start the process of natural ripening and generate large amounts of ethylene in the process.

Approved Ripening Agent: Ethephon
Ethephon 39% SL has been recently approved by the Central Insecticides Board and Registration Committee (CIB & RC) for uniform ripening of mangoes and other fruits and thus, another safe method for artificial ripening has been added.


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