Fruits are an important part of a healthy and balanced diet. And, with a lot of light being shed on the importance of eating fruits, sellers have begun to artificially grow them by injecting hazardous chemicals into them. One of the pre-treatments used for better consumer acceptance is artificial fruit ripening, which is done to achieve faster as well as more uniform ripening effects.
In artificial ripening, unsaturated hydrocarbons such as ethylene and acetylene can help in promoting ripening and color change. Even though these chemicals help in improving cosmetic quality of the fruit, they do so at the expense of its organoleptic quality. Moreover, when a chemical is used to improve aesthetics of an edible, it is used in much more than conventional dosage.
Fruit trade has been developing over the years demanding that they be transported to distant places. Now, for fruits to survive through the thick and thin of transportation, they have to be firm and mature and not get damaged during marketing. So, to avoid damage to fruits, they are shipped in their immature state and then ripened at the destination markets before they are put for sale. This practice has enough credulity to its name from a seller’s perspective, which has made it rather essential today. An important chemical used for artificial ripening is calcium carbide, also popularly known as ‘masala’.
• Fruits that are artificially ripened with carbide tend to be softer to simulate appearance and feel of naturally ripened fruits. However, as is expected from chemically treated edibles, they taste inferior and have a disappointing flavour.
• Because the chemical is used to provide a cosmetic lift, it only makes the fruit appear ripe from the outside while the inside still remains green or raw.
• Fruits that are extremely raw need to be given a higher dosage of calcium carbide and this can make the fruit even more tasteless, and sometimes, toxic.
Calcium carbide is a toxic and highly dangerous, corrosive chemical. Fruits that are ripened with this chemical can cause several harmful effects to the human health. Some of these effects are described below.
Calcium carbide has the potential to cause cancer and contains traces of phosphorus hydride and arsenic. Some early symptoms of arsenic or phosphorus include diarrhea with or without blood, vomiting, thirst, weakness, burning sensation of chest and abdomen, irritation or burning in the eye, difficulty in swallowing, permanent eye damage, sore throat, ulcers on the skin, cough and shortness of breath.
Carbide has an alkaline substance, an irritant which has the potential to erode mucosal tissues inside the stomach. This can disrupt intestinal functions significantly.
Disruption of Neurological System
It has been found that carbide imitates acetylene gas, which can drastically impair the neurological system by inducing hypoxia for a prolonged period. Hypoxia is a condition that prompts low oxygen supply to the blood as well as tissues. Some of the symptoms of this condition include dizziness, headache, sleepiness, mood disturbances, memory loss, sleepiness, cerebral oedema, mental confusion and seizure.
Calcium carbide has been banned in a lot of countries, but it still is widely propagated under secretive banners. If you sense a different taste upon eating a slice of mango or taking a bite of banana, throw it away. Some of the most common fruits exploited by this practice include mango, papaya, banana and rarely, tomatoes and dates.
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