Fruits are a great source of minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients. Stalls are adorned with mango, peach, plum, and banana. People buy these fruits for their health benefits but they are completely unaware of the fact that they are actually buying poison for themselves. The aforementioned fruits require a certain temperature to ripe but to meet the demand and for the sake of profit; farmers pick raw fruits and sell them in the market. The fruit vendors then use a hazardous fruit ripening agent, Calcium carbide or “pattas”, to speed up the ripening process. If this chemical comes in contact with fruit, it can cause deadly disease like cancer. They are clearly oblivious to the danger of its use. Use of calcium carbide is discouraged worldwide as a fruit ripening agent. Sadly, this practice is still common in Pakistan though actions are being taken by relevant bodies to stop this menace.

I recently happened to witness a raid at a local fruit market in Lahore by the food safety team of Punjab Food Authority. They conducted on spot tests to check the presence of Calcium Carbide in fruits and discarded ton of mangoes and peaches which resulted positive. Fruit containers with packets of this chemical were also confiscated right away. Later on in news, Director General Punjab Food Authority Capt. (R) Muhammad Usman Younis gave his stance that their department has banned the use of calcium carbide as fruit ripening agent since 2017 but fruit sellers have not taken it seriously.

People need to understand that wasted material was not food at all. It was a poison that could reach their bellies and cost them their health. We must appreciate such steps and perform our role of a responsible citizen by identifying these factors.