A group of researchers led by the head of the food science and technology department of Pondicherry University said that they have developed a simple, fast and cost-effective method to detect artificial ripening of fruits by calcium carbide. Consumption of fruits ripened artificially using calcium carbide may cause serious health hazards.

The team, led by Prathap Kumar Shetty, developed a sensor solution (bio-functionalized gold nanoparticle). When the solution is mixed with water with which the fruits have been washed, the solution changes colour, if the fruits had been ripened using calcuim carbide. This can be used to prove whether the fruits were ripened using calcium carbide.  According to P.K Shetty, the following simple and cost-effective procedure has been suggested to detect artificial ripening of fruits.

  1. Wash the test fruit with 10mLof water
  2. Take 1mL of the wash and mix with equal volume of sensor solution in a glass test tube and mix.
  3. The change in colour of solution from red to purple indicates that calcium carbide is used for ripening the fruit.
  4. No change in colour of the solution indicates that calcium carbide was not used for ripening the fruit

Now we will focus recently disclosed some methods, which are suggested to detect artificial ripening of fruits.

  1. Fruits (mango) ripened artificially with CaC2 float when dropped in a bucket of water.
  2. If a lit match stick is hold near a fruit (remember not near to boxes/ containers/cartons of fruits) artificially ripened with CaC2, it gives sparkles or even catches a fire if traces of C2H2 (acetylene gas is produced when CaC2 reacts with water/ moisture) exist on the surface of fruit.
  3. In case of banana and papaya, if the fruits are ripened by CaC2 or artificial agents, the stem portion of fruits will still be dark green (but the fruits are yellow).
  4. Fruits ripened by CaC2 or artificial agents start developing black blotches on their surface within 2/3 days
  5. The present of arsenic in fruits (the origin of As in fruits is due to ***Industrial Grade (IG) of CaC2) can be detected by Marsh test.

*** Trader/ Farmers prefer the use of CaC2 to ripen the fruits as the cost of 1Kg of CaC2 (Industrial Grade, IG) is about 50 tk and it can ripen 10 tones of fruits. IG carbide contains traces of P and As hydride with Pb particles which cause acute and chronic health effects. Consumption of carbide ripened fruits causes stomach disorder, the alkaline substance erodes the mucosal tissue and interrupts intestinal function can also cause peptic ulcers. It also affects the neurological systems and reduces oxygen supply to the brain which induces prolonged hypoxia, which can cause headache, dizziness, insomnia, mental disorder, etc.

**** Prevention is better than cure it S……

  1. It is not advisable to buy fruits when they arrive in market before the due period or during off season
  2. It is advised to wash fruits under running salt mixed water for 10 minutes
  3. It is better to cut into pieces rather than consuming them directly
  4. Instead of salt mixed water, one can use apple cider vinegar or normal vinegar