The Food Safety department on Tuesday seized and destroyed 2.5 tonnes of artificially ripened fruits from the wholesale fruits market in Koyambedu. The fruits, including two tonnes of papaya and 500 kg of mangoes, had been ripened using calcium carbide, said sources in the department.
This time since the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority’s Market Management Committee (MMC) had also been involved in the raid, their officials had closed two shops where these fruits were being sold. “For the Food Safety Department to close down shops is a difficult task. But for the MMC, it is within their ambit since these are construed as illegal activities,” explained R.Kathiravan, designated officer, Tamil Nadu Food Safety Department, Chennai.
The closure of the shops would act as a better deterrent for errant shopkeepers since otherwise it is only a fine amount and loss of a day’s turn over when their goods are seized and destroyed, he added.
Dr. Kathiravan also said that smaller shops were also being watched for any unusual activity. “This year wholesalers have stopped using artificial ripening agents for bananas. We are now concentrating on sapota and papayas since mangoes are yet to arrive in large quantities,” he explained.
The inspection was done early in the morning and the artificially ripened fruits were destroyed in the market’s bio-methanisation plant. Around 15 kgs of calcium carbide, ethylene ripening powder and sprayer were also seized from these shops.
A food safety officer said that only last week an awareness meeting had been conducted for shopkeepers about the ill effects of using calcium carbide to ripen fruits. “Over the years, with the active participation of the MMC most wholesalers have constructed ripening chambers in their shops. This has helped considerably reduce the incidences of using chemicals to ripen fruits,” he added.
Food Safety department officials and DRO, Koyembedu Market complex inspecting at the Fruit market in Chennai on Tuesday.