Farmers use illegal chemicals to ripen fruits artificially!

Fruits are an excellent part of a healthy diet and a wonderful source of vitamins and minerals; they help to avoid Vitamin C and Vitamin A deficits.

Fruit vendor
Fruit vendor

Yes, you heard it right. Ethephon (2-chloroethyl phosphonic acid) is a chemical that farmers often use to ripen fruits artificially in an illegal way. It enters the fruit and decomposes ethylene (a gaseous compound produced by fruits).

Calcium carbide is another regularly used chemical; it produces acetylene, an analogue of ethylene.  Studies have demonstrated that its explosive nature degrades the organic makeup of vitamins and other micronutrients.

Furthermore, the fruit’s inside remains raw; just the colour of the skin is altered.  Additionally, industrial-grade calcium carbide is frequently shown to include trace levels of the hazardous substances phosphorus and arsenic.

Phosphorus and arsenic poisoning symptoms may include diarrhoea, weakness, vomiting, burning sensation in the chest and abdomen, itchy eyes, permanent eye damage, ulcers, and thirst.

Other vital signs and symptoms may include wheezing, sore throat, coughing, and breathlessness. Eating artificially ripened mangoes can upset your stomach. It interferes with intestinal function and harms the stomach’s mucosal tissue.

If a person is exposed to chemicals for an extended period, they may develop peptic ulcers.  The studies suggest these chemicals may also affect an individual’s neurological system by inducing prolonged hypoxia. The symptoms may include headache, high sleepiness, memory loss, dizziness, cerebral oedema, numbness in hands and legs, general weakness, low blood pressure, cold skin, and seizure.

Following the Prevention of Food Adulteration (PFA) Act of 1954, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has outlawed using chemicals like ethephon and calcium carbide. Anyone who uses it will face a three-year jail sentence and a fine of 1000 Rupees.

How to know if a fruit is artificially ripened or not?


You can differentiate the artificially ripened fruit from the naturally ripened one by simply recognizing if a fruit has a uniform skin colour (tomato, mango, papaya) and, in the case of a banana. By checking its stem, you will know that the fruit is artificially ripened; it will be dark green and have a shorter shelf-life and lesser flavour.

Also, the fruits may have been artificially ripened if available before their season. The chemicals can be dangerous and reduced by washing and peeling their skin off before consumption. It is also possible to analyze whether the fruit is artificially ripened or contaminated in standard laboratories.

Everybody loves fruits worldwide, as they come in a wide variety, with various tastes and textures to suit any palette. The risk of chronic illnesses is mostly lower in people who eat fruits daily.

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The World Health Organisation (WHO) suggests that five servings of fruits and vegetables should be consumed to maintain good health.

However, fruits can be healthy, depending on how they ripen. Therefore, the most therapeutic strategy is to let them ripen on the plants. Unfortunately, fruits ripen in nature utilizing various physical and biochemical processes after the correct ripeness, resulting in senescence, which is irreversible.

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