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Are the mangoes that you’ll eat safe???

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind, when you hear the word ‘Mango’? For me, it’s a vivid image of a scrumptious, delectable, mouthwatering entity that I can devour in no time. Let’s face it mangoes have always ruled the roost and have earned the mantle of being called the King of fruits not only because of its enticing flavor but also due its nutritional reserves.

Indian summers are replete with mangoes being served in every possible edible form to suit one’s taste buds. However, consuming them may lead to detrimental effects on one’s body.

mango

Many farmers and traders in a bid to elude a possible glut that cut into their profits, resort to methods of synthetically harvesting the fruit. Although some chemicals are approved for artificial ripening like ethylene gas, farmers opt for hazardous ones like calcium carbide that gives the fruit a deceptive full grown healthy demeanor at a cheaper rate.

What is Calcium Carbide?

It’s a chemical compound that is composed of calcium and carbide and is used industrially to produce acetylene, a flammable gas. Calcium Carbide is also used in industries to manufacture several chemical substances, in carbide lamps and to manufacture steel and plastic.

Hazardous effects of Calcium Carbide

This chemical has been pulled up for both its short and long- term debilitating effects. It contains lethal agents like arsenic and phosphorous that cause several anomalies in the human body:

  • Headache
  • Mood disturbances
  • Sleepiness
  • Dizziness
  • Memory loss
  • Mental confusion
  • Cerebral edema

The free radicals from carbide play a major role as a precursor of cancer, heart ailments, stroke, arthritis and possible allergies too.

If an expectant woman consumes these synthetically ripened fruits, it can lead to an involuntary abortion and/or developmental complications if the child is born.

The other peril that calcium carbide poses is the volatility of its reaction when mixed with water. It produces acetylene (a combustible gas) and lime. The heat of this reaction is so high that it can at times exceed  the  ignition point for acetylene(305 degrees Celsius)  causing an explosion.

How does one discern a naturally ripe Mango from a chemically ripened one?

Parameters Naturally ripened Mango Chemically ripened by Calcium Carbide
Texture Ordinary looking, not uniformly colored Deceivingly Ripe, uniformly colored
Aroma Good Faint Odor
Taste Sweet and succulent Hard and non-juicy
Shelf life Longer Short, black patches appear on the skin within 2 to 3 days

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It is advisable that before consumption, one should soak the fruits in water for some time and thereafter wash it thoroughly so that the chemicals are washed away. Refrain from buying fruits that are non- seasonal, as they are likely to be synthetically treated. The actual mango season starts towards the end of April, try resisting the temptation until then.

Thus, look out for the tell tale signs, be judicious, make healthy choices and enjoy a lip smacking mango season ahead.

 

References:

http://www.atmph.org/article.asp?issn=1755-6783;year=2012;volume=5;issue=3;spage=150;epage=156;aulast=Asif#ft36

http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2008-06-02/news/28438918_1_calcium-carbide-mango-trade-chemical

Dr. Vijaykumar S. Kamat

Dr Vijay Kamat graduated from K.L.E. society’s Shri B. M. Kankanwadi Ayurved Mahavidyalaya, Belgaum, India; one of the oldest Ayurvedic institutions in India. He is a prestigious member of the Ayurvedic Association of India. He possesses deep ancestral and research-based knowledge of plants, and is passionate about bringing age-old secrets of Ayurveda within the reach of a common man. In keeping with his passion, he is presently leading the medical team of Biogetica – a collective of Doctors dedicated to natural medicine. Together, they work to bring evidence-based natural healing solutions to the world.

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