The recent trend of purchasing fruits vegetables is that, they are usually chopped and put into polystyrene (thermocol) trays, sealed air-tight with a thin film of plastic and stored in a refrigerator that is set to temperatures between 0 and 4 degrees Celsius.
Local vegetable vendors also follow the same trend though they do not refrigerate the chopped vegetables. Baby corn, broccoli, garlic, carrot, green peas are the commonly packed vegetables available in the market.
Food safety becomes a major concern in such cases. Experts feel that those who buy chopped fruits and vegetables, which are stored inappropriately, actually compromise on their health. Dr. Jyoti Vora, Head of Department of Biochemistry and Food Science and Quality Control at Ramnarain Ruia College, Mumbai, said, "While handling foods - whether it is your street food or your vegetables - there is a need to use proper gear. Staff should use disposable gloves, wear masks over their face and undergo regular health check-ups that are documented by the company that employs them."
As far as food handling is concerned, it is always better to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables. "We do not know the date of manufacture. When we see these fruits and vegetables in the store, we do not have a proper date of manufacture or date of expiry. These are factors that consumers need to know before they buy fruits and vegetables," she added.
Despite the availability of chopped and packed fruits and vegetables on the shelf, people still opt for buying their weekly supplies from the vendor by the kilo, taking them home and then chopping them. Consumers feel that this is a safer way, and that the vegetables will be better handled by them, rather than a retail store or a vegetable vendor.
"The vendors charge extra when they sell chopped vegetables. That's enough incentive for us to wash our fruits and vegetables at home," said, Sreekant Dass, resident of Khar.
Juhu resident Anagha Ingle said that they do not buy vegetables from the local vegetable cart that comes outside their house. "We have a weekly supplier who operates from the Vile Parle market. We have a weekly supply and my mother gives him a call and he delivers our supplies. In the past eight years, we have interacted with him, he has always given us the best fruits and veggies," she said.
Few prefer whole fruits and vegetables as they feel that buying chopped vegetables destroys the nutritional value and that there is no point in losing half the nutrients.