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Posted at: Jun 13, 2018, 1:12 AM; last updated: Jun 13, 2018, 1:12 AM (IST)

15 fruit cartons destroyed amid surprise inspection

Officials collect fruit samples to check artificial ripening agents
15 fruit cartons destroyed amid surprise inspection
Officials conduct a surprise check at a fruit market in Amritsar on Tuesday. Tribune photo

Manmeet Singh Gill

Tribune News Service

Amritsar, June 12

A joint team of health, horticulture and MC officials conducted surprise checks at fruit markets in the city and collected samples to ascertain the use of artificial fruit ripening agents, if any.

The team also destroyed 15 cartons of mangoes which it felt were ripened using artificial agents. District Health Officer Dr Lakhbir Singh Bhagowalia said, “Calcium carbide is the most commonly used artificial ripening agent. It is known to have adverse effects on human beings.”

The artificial ripening of fruits by fruit merchants is a common and old practice. Earlier too, the department had taken action on various occasions but in the absence of any stringent measures, such actions have failed to deter the errants.

Health officials say the use of calcium carbide has been banned as it is a known carcinogenic substance. The use of other common agent ethylene is permissible only under limits.

People can get to know the use of calcium carbide before buying fruits as such items mostly have a uniform colour. The naturally ripened fruits are not uniform in colour but they are patchy.

Dr Bhagowalia said efforts to check the use of artificial ripening agents had been expedited under the ‘Tandrust Punjab’ mission.

Other officials involved in the raid included Tehsildar JP Salwan, Deputy Director, Horticulture, Baaj Singh, MC Health Officer Dr Raju Chowan and Food Safety Officers Ashwani Kumar and Jatinder Virk.

Dr Baghowalia said samples of fruits have been sent to the food testing laboratory in Kharar (SAS Nagar) and if the use of artificial agents is ascertained, action would be taken against traders. Officials also held a meeting with representatives of fruit traders and asked them to help in checking the use of banned chemicals. Health officials said the use of banned artificial agents is punishable under law with imprisonment of up to two years.

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