• Posted by CERC India
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Beware of artificially ripened fruits

Ripening of fruits makes them edible and nutritious. In nature, fruits ripen after attainment of proper maturity by a sequence of physiological and biochemical events. Whether fruits ripen on the plant or after harvest, the general changes are softening, change in colour and development of characteristic aroma and flavour. There is also reduction in sourness and increase in sweetness. Usually fruits naturally produce ethylene gas, a plant hormone that ripens them.

Artificial ripening is widely practiced. Fruits are contaminated by chemicals that induce faster and more uniform ripening. The most commonly used chemical is calcium carbide, which is banned. Fruits ripened with calcium carbide are inferior in taste and flavour and have a shorter shelf life. Black blotches appear on the skin of a fruit in two or three days. Examples of fruits and vegetables ripened using calcium carbide are mango, banana, papaya, chikoo, dates and tomatoes.

Health hazards

Calcium carbide is a corrosive chemical. As it contains traces of arsenic and phosphorous hydride, it is suspected to cause cancer. Consumption of fruits ripened with calcium carbide may also cause stomach upset and affect the neurological system causing headache, dizziness and even seizures.

How to choose

While buying, how does one know which is a naturally ripened fruit and which fruit is artificially ripened? The former have good weight, look attractive but are not uniformly coloured, have good aroma and are fairly firm. Fruits ripened artificially by calcium carbide have fair weight, are not very attractive but are uniformly coloured, have a mildly good aroma and are overly soft.


Wash the fruits thoroughly before consumption under potable running water for a few minutes so that the chemicals are washed away. Peel the fruits before consumption. While eating mangoes and apples, it is better to cut the fruit into pieces, rather than consuming them whole.

Source: FSSAI website

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