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 by using harmful chemicals such as calcium carbide. Artificially ripened mangoes, though seemingly more attractive, look unusually ripe, have dark patches on the skin and have a foul smell. Using chemicals to ripen fruits and make other vegetables look attractive have become a common practice, as it helps make a fast buck. Shockingly, the chemicals used in such fruits and vegetables contain traces of arsenic and phosphorus, which if consumed on a regular basis, might lead to deadly diseases such as cancer.
Though using artificial methods to ripen fruits is prohibited by the law, the practice is rampant. Also, the Department of Food Technology and Quality Control (DoFTQC), due to the absence of a laboratory to test the quality of food products, has not been able to implicate such unscrupulous sellers. Moreover, most of the sellers are blithely ignorant about the harmful effects that consuming such items can have on public health. In order to ensure the safety of public health, the government needs to launch awareness campaigns to educate the public about the harmful effects of consuming artificially treated fruits and vegetables. Strong mechanisms to regularly test the quality of food products available in the market should be put in place immediately.