CALCIUM CARBIDE (Syllabus: GS Paper 3– Sci and Tech)

News-CRUX-10     21st May 2024        
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Context: Recently, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) issued a warning to traders, fruit handlers, and Food Business Operators (FBOs) managing ripening chambers, emphasizing strict adherence to the ban on calcium carbide for artificial ripening of fruits, especially during the mango season.

Calcium Carbide

  • About: It also known as calcium acetylide, is a chemical compound with the chemical formula of CaC2.
  • Release of Harmful Gases: Calcium carbide, commonly used for ripening fruits like mangoes, releases acetylene gas which contains harmful traces of arsenic and phosphorus.
  • Health Effects: These substances, also known as ‘Masala’, can cause serious health issues such as dizziness, frequent thirst, irritation, weakness, difficulty in swallowing, vomiting, and skin ulcers, etc.
  • Hazards for Handlers: Additionally, acetylene gas is equally hazardous to those handling it.
  • Regulatory Measures: Due to these dangers, the use of calcium carbide for ripening fruits has been banned under the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restrictions on Sales) Regulations, 2011.

Ethylene Gas

  • FSSAI Approval: FSSAI has permitted the use of ethylene gas as a safer alternative for fruit ripening in India.
  • Safe Concentrations: Ethylene gas can be used at concentrations up to 100 ppm (100 μl/L), depending upon the crop, variety, and maturity.

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