Artificial ripening of fruits

Published: July 25, 2019

LAHORE: Nobody can deny the importance of fruits. Fruits contain lots of vitamins and minerals required for proper functioning of the human body. Adequate amounts of antioxidants, beta carotene and polyphenols present in fruits further strengthen health-enhancing potentials. Therefore fruits should be a part of our daily diet. But let’s have a look at how nature’s gift is being impaired by unscrupulous human practices.

Fruits should be consumed when ripe. Natural ripening processes impart physical, chemical and organoleptic properties making them more palatable and nutritious. However, the ripening process is quite time consuming and the demand is high. Thus, in order to fulfil these demands fruit sellers use a variety of ripening agents that speed up the process. Ethylene, acetylene, calcium carbide, propylene, glycol and ethanol are some artificial ripening agents. Among these, calcium carbide is the most commonly used. Calcium carbide helps in accelerating the ripening process. However, it also leads to several deleterious effects. Calcium carbide is a carcinogen, which contains traces of arsenic and phosphorus hydride. Consumption of fruits ripened with this deadly powder results in multiple acute and chronic ailments. Some of which may include food poisoning, shortness of breath, sore throat, headache, dizziness memory loss, seizures, etc.

Buying such fruits is equivalent to buying poison. The use of calcium carbide as a ripening agent has been banned worldwide, due to its adverse effects. However, in Pakistan this unethical practice still persists even after being banned by Punjab Food Authority in 2018.

Inspections and special raids have been carried out by Director General PFA Captain (R) Muhammad Usman Younis to ensure compliance with regulations. Furthermore, seminars and sessions for fruit sellers had also been arranged by the Punjab Food Authority to spread awareness at a large scale. Such initiatives should be supported for the nurturing of a healthy generation before it’s too late.

Usama Pervez

Published in The Express Tribune, July 25th, 2019.

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