Sale of artificially ripened mangoes rampant in valley

Kathmandu, July 30

The fruit markets in the capital are doing brisk business, as they especially do during the season of mangoes. But the mangoes that are available in the market are artificially ripened with the use of harmful chemicals such as calcium carbide. Doctors say many people who consume such mangoes are facing health issues.

Ten-year-old Astha ate a mango bought from the marketplace and her lips got swollen after a few minutes.

Likewise, one of the medical officers at Sukraraj Tropical and Infectious Disease Hospital, Teku, felt dizziness after eating a mango, which she had bought from the fruit market.

In the same way, six members of the same family visited Teku Hospital complaining of skin allergy. After investigation, doctors found that the reason behind the allergy was a chemical used for ripening the mangoes that they had eaten.

Dr Sher Bahadur Pun, coordinator of Clinical Research Unit at Teku Hospital, said that one small boy of the family, who had not eaten the mango due to the foul smell, did not complain of any allergy.

“I have heard about health problems caused by consuming artificially ripened mangoes in India. But now the problem is being seen even in Nepal,” he added.

Nearly 10 people visited the hospital with complaints of a severe allergic reaction, dizziness, swelling of lips, tongue, eyes and face.

In the same way, Bed Prasad Regmi, manager director at BP Health Clinic informed that within a week, five patients visited his clinic with complaints of red spots on the face and body, soft stool, severe allergic reaction, wheezing, dizziness, weakness, swelling of the lips, tongue, eyes and face.

“Due to excessive use of calcium carbide in mangoes, people are suffering from such illnesses and  the cases might increase if the government does not stop the sale of such mangoes in the market,” said Dr Pun.

According to the Department of Food and Technology and Quality Control Spokesperson Purna Chandra Wasti, it is the responsibility of the department to inspect the chemicals used in fruits.

“Using calcium carbide to ripen fruits is prohibited by the law. Calcium carbide, once dissolved in water, produces acetylene gas. Acetylene acts as an asphyxiant and may affect the neurological system by inducing prolonged hypoxia. This leads to headache, dizziness, mood disturbances, memory loss and seizures,” he said, adding that consumption fruits with such chemicals on a regular basis might lead to cancer.