As a kid, I used to get excited about the summer holidays for two reasons. One, because it meant not having to wake up early for school and two, it meant a near unlimited supply of mangoes (courtesy my extremely indulgent father). At the time, I had no idea that mangoes were often artificially ripened with calcium carbide, and even if I did, I wouldn’t have been able to tell the artificially ripened mangoes apart from the naturally ripened ones. Thankfully, my dad knew the difference and it’s a really good thing that he did because eating artificially ripened fruit can have some really nasty side effects. According to news reports, large quantities of artificially ripened fruits are being sold in the market.
The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has noted that calcium carbide is a carcinogen, and the Food Safety and Standards Rules prohibit the use of carbide generated gas for ripening fruits.
Calcium carbide when mixed with water, releases acetylene gas which speeds up the ripening of the fruit. A study linked calcium carbide to a whole host of side effects, ranging from dizziness to memory loss and seizures. The study noted that these effects occur because calcium carbide contains traces of arsenic and phosphorous. The study also pointed out that calcium carbide can cause irritation in the eye and skin rashes. The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has noted that calcium carbide is a carcinogen, and the Food Safety and Standards Rules prohibit the use of carbide generated gas for ripening fruits.
So, how do you tell the difference between delicious, naturally ripened mangoes and potentially toxic artificially ripened mangoes? One way is just by looking at them. Naturally ripened mangoes don’t look as good as their artificially ripened counterparts and are not uniformly coloured. Another way to tell the difference is by the smell. Naturally ripened mangoes generally have a stronger aroma than artificially ripened ones. According to the FSSAI, artificially ripened fruits are also overly soft, and inferior in taste and flavour.
Despite being aware of the signs which indicate that a mango has been artificially ripened, it is still quite likely that many people will end up buying it. In that case, the FSSAI recommends that the fruit be washed thoroughly before it is consumed.
They also have a shorter shelf life.
Despite being aware of the signs which indicate that a mango has been artificially ripened, it is still quite likely that many people will end up buying it. In that case, the FSSAI recommends that the fruit is washed thoroughly before it is consumed. It also recommends that, as far as possible, its skin should be peeled off. For mangoes and apples, the FSSAI advises that they should be cut, rather than eaten as a whole (something I’ve been guilty of doing quite often).
Fruit is an important part of people’s diets, and mangoes aren’t called the ‘king of fruits’ for no reason. They are extremely popular and every summer, people, myself included, tend to eat a lot of mangoes. Given their popularity, it is crucial that we take the time to ensure that we only buy naturally ripened mangoes. Do your taste buds and your health a favour!