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Calcium carbide in mangoes: civic body drive to crack the whip on erring vendors

Following complaints of the use of calcium carbide to ripen mangoes,the health department of the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation collected samples of different varieties of the fruit from vendors.

Following complaints of the use of calcium carbide to ripen mangoes,the health department of the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation collected samples of different varieties of the fruit from vendors.

PCMC medical director Dr Rajshekhar Iyer said that the health department had sent samples of mangoes to the Public Health Laboratory and the report is expected this week.

“If the mangoes are found to contain calcium carbide or any other any harmful artificial substance,action will be taken against the fruit vendor. We will cancel his licence to sell fruit and file a police complaint against him,” Dr Iyer said. 

Officials said calcium carbide contains traces of arsenic and phosphorous which are harmful for humans. When dissolved in water,calcium carbide produces acetylene gas affecting the neurological system.

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The harmful effects of calcium carbide consumption include headaches,dizziness,mental illness and other problems. “Sometimes even dye and colouring agents are used to give bright colours to the fruit,” officials said.  

Dr Iyer said samples of mango were collected from different places in the town,especially areas from which complaints of citizens and activists were received. “Citizens are complaining of mangoes with rotten seeds inside or the entire mango emitting foul smell,” he said.

Customers in Pune have also complained of bad mangoes. Harsha Shah,president of the Pune Pravasi Sangh informed that all of seven boxes of Alphonso mangoes she had bought from Devgad in Ratnagari turned out to be bad.

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Food and Drug Administration Joint Commissioner Sanjay Patil said that they were not in a position to take action against the vendors as all the 15 inspectors were on census duty.

“We have written to the government but are awaiting their response. At least for another month or so,we will not be in a position to take action,” he said.

Patil said over a month back,they had raided two vendors following complaints. He said it would be difficult to detect the presence of calcium carbide in mangoes.      

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Bhaskar Patil,manager of the Maharashtra State Marketing Board,said mangoes sold by the board at stalls in front of the Central Building in Pune station area and those at Market Yard do not contain any calcium carbide.

First published on: 24-05-2010 at 05:15:47 am
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