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‘Artificially ripened fruits pose serious health risks’

- Prahlad Rijal, Kathmandu

Jun 20, 2016-

Rampant use of chemicals such as Calcium Carbide for artificial ripening of mangoes poses serious health risks, experts have warned.

“Food adulteration and environmental pollution in Kathmandu are some of the major issues putting the public’s health at risk,” Bhupendra Basnet, gastroenterologist at Bir Hospital said. “Especially, mangoes ripened artificially using Calcium Carbide cause dizziness, nausea and diarrhoea after consumption, and in the long-term, the carcinogens found in that chemical will lead to cancer.”

According to Basnet, no steps have been taken to address such issues because none are concerned.

The mango season has just started and imports from India have also risen accordingly. Although the technology to test the use of Calcium Carbide exists in Nepal, it has not been run on mangoes.

The imported fruit is mainly sold in Kalimati Vegetable and Fruits Market, Kuleshwor fruit Market and Balkhu Vegetable Market in Kathmandu. Although the Kalimati market is equipped with chemical testing lab, other major markets have no such technology.

The lab testing of fruits and vegetables is done by a unit under the purview of the Plant Protection Directorate under the Department of Agriculture. Only two kinds of tests are run by the units but the fruits and vegetables contain various chemicals. Moreover, none of the authorities are running lab tests to check Calcium Carbide usage on fruits like mango and banana.

“The Plant Protection Directorate only tests usage of Carbon Carbonate and Argano Phosphate,” Dilli Ram Sharma, chief of Directorate said. “No tests are run to check Calcium Carbide in fruits because it does not fall under the group of pesticides.”

According to Purna Chandra Wasti, spokesperson for Food Technology and Quality Control Department, there are equipment to run such tests but the testing of fruits and vegetables does not fall under the purview of the department. “The lab test of pesticides in fruits and vegetables fall under the purview of Plant Protection Directorate,” he said.

“The use of pesticide is at its highest in mangoes that enter Kathmandu,” Prem Lal Maharjan, president of the National Consumers Forum said. “The mangoes look luscious but are harmful.”

None of the government authorities or non-governmental organisations is currently monitoring the usage of Calcium Carbide in fruits and vegetables.

The perfect season for mangoes to ripe falls in the pre-monsoon period in June, but the vendors were selling mangoes in the streets during April too.

Consumer rights activists claimed the mangoes that entered Kathmandu before the start of the main season also were laced with harmful chemicals as they were artificially ripened.

Published: 20-06-2016 08:46

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