Better be careful before you dig into those sumptuous looking mangoes. They could have got that bright color from calcium carbide, a chemical that has cancer-causing properties.
On May 30, the food and supply wing of Chandigarh (the capital of Indian states of Punjab and Haryana) seized 70 quintal of mangoes, 68 quintal of papayas and two drums of calcium carbide from traders. They were loaded in seven trucks and sent to be disposed of under the supervision of raiding officials.
Dr. S.B.Deepak Kumar, district magistrate-cum-deputy commissioner, had ordered to seize the illegally ripened mangoes. Two action forces constituted under the directions of SDM (east) Danish Ashraf and SDM (south) Kashish Mittal along with officials of department of food and supply carried out the surprise checks.
Calcium carbide is popularly known as 'masala', though banned under Food Safety and Standards Regulations, 2011 in India. It has cancer-causing properties and is mainly used in ripening of mango, banana, papaya and tomatoes.
The deputy commissioner said that surprise checks would be carried out throughout the city. He has further stated that 'apni mandis' would also be frequently checked to curb the menace and legal action will be initiated against erring fruit agents/sellers.
Dr.G.Dewan, deputy medical superintendent, Government Multi-Specialty Hospital, Sector 16 said, "Artificial ripeness of the fruits can harm the bodies from the mouth to the rectum, causing gastric problems, ulcers and for long term usage, it can also lead to cancer. For precautionary measures, soaking the fruits in water for half an hour or so can dilute the harmful effects of the fruit."