FSSAI's Crackdown on Harmful Fruit Ripening Practices: Ensuring Public Health and Compliance

▴ Usage of Calcium Carbide in Mango ripening
By enforcing the prohibition on calcium carbide and promoting the use of ethylene gas, FSSAI aims to enhance public health and safety

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has issued a crucial reminder to fruit traders, handlers, and Food Business Operators (FBOs) managing ripening chambers to strictly adhere to the prohibition on using calcium carbide for artificial fruit ripening. This warning is particularly significant during the mango season, a time when the improper use of ripening agents is most prevalent. By enforcing these regulations, FSSAI aims to safeguard public health and ensure compliance with the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restrictions on Sales) Regulations, 2011.


Calcium carbide is often used to artificially ripen fruits like mangoes. However, it releases acetylene gas, which contains harmful traces of arsenic and phosphorus, substances commonly referred to as ‘Masala’. These compounds pose severe health risks, including:

- Dizziness
- Frequent thirst
- Irritation
- Weakness
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Vomiting
- Skin ulcers

In addition to these health risks, acetylene gas can leave dangerous residues on fruits, posing further hazards to handlers and consumers alike. Recognizing these dangers, the use of calcium carbide for ripening fruits is explicitly banned under Regulation 2.3.5 of the Food Safety and Standards Regulations, 2011. This regulation clearly states: “No person shall sell or offer or expose for sale or have in his premises for the purpose of sale under any description, fruits which have been artificially ripened by use of acetylene gas, commonly known as carbide gas.”


In response to the health hazards posed by calcium carbide, the FSSAI has authorized the use of ethylene gas as a safer alternative for fruit ripening in India. Ethylene gas is a natural hormone in fruits that facilitates the ripening process by triggering and controlling various chemical and biochemical activities. Ethylene can be used at concentrations up to 100 ppm (100 μl/L), depending on the crop, variety, and maturity, making it a safe and effective option for fruit ripening.

Moreover, the Central Insecticides Board and Registration Committee (CIB & RC) has approved Ethephon 39% SL for the uniform ripening of mangoes and other fruits. Ethephon is a safer alternative that ensures the even ripening of fruits without the associated health risks of calcium carbide.


To support the transition from harmful practices to safer methods, the FSSAI has published a detailed guidance document titled “Artificial Ripening of Fruits – Ethylene gas a safe fruit ripener.” This document provides a comprehensive Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) covering all aspects of artificial ripening using ethylene gas. The SOP includes:

- Restrictions and Requirements: Detailed guidelines on the permissible use of ethylene gas.
- Ethylene Ripening Systems: Specifications for the equipment and systems used for ethylene-based ripening.
- Handling Conditions: Best practices for handling fruits during and after the ripening process.
- Sources of Ethylene Gas: Approved sources and methods for procuring ethylene gas.
- Application Protocols: Step-by-step instructions on how to apply ethylene gas safely and effectively.
- Post-Treatment Operations: Guidelines for handling fruits post-ripening to ensure safety and quality.
- Safety Guidelines: Comprehensive safety measures to protect handlers and consumers.


FSSAI has advised the Food Safety Departments of States and Union Territories to remain vigilant and take stringent action against any individuals or entities found using calcium carbide for fruit ripening. This enforcement is critical to curbing the use of banned substances and ensuring public health safety.

Consumers also play a vital role in this regulatory framework. FSSAI encourages consumers to report any use of calcium carbide or incorrect ripening practices to their respective State Commissioners of Food Safety. Increased consumer awareness and reporting can significantly contribute to the effective enforcement of these regulations.

Understanding the health risks associated with artificial ripening using calcium carbide is crucial for both consumers and industry stakeholders. Calcium carbide can cause a range of health issues, from mild symptoms like dizziness and irritation to severe conditions such as skin ulcers and difficulty in swallowing. The residues left on fruits can pose long-term health risks, particularly to vulnerable populations such as children and the elderly.


Ethylene gas, a natural plant hormone, is a safe alternative for ripening fruits. It works by triggering the natural ripening process, resulting in evenly ripened fruits that are safe for consumption. Ethylene is widely used in the agriculture industry due to its efficacy and safety profile. Unlike calcium carbide, ethylene does not leave harmful residues, making it a preferred choice for fruit ripening.


The transition from calcium carbide to ethylene-based ripening requires awareness, training, and compliance among fruit traders, handlers, and FBOs. FSSAI's guidance document and SOPs are designed to facilitate this transition by providing clear and actionable steps. Training programs and workshops can further aid in educating stakeholders about the benefits and procedures of using ethylene gas for ripening.


By enforcing the prohibition on calcium carbide and promoting the use of ethylene gas, FSSAI aims to enhance public health and safety. Ensuring that fruits are ripened using safe methods protects consumers from harmful chemicals and contributes to overall food safety standards. This initiative aligns with FSSAI's broader mission to ensure the availability of safe and healthy food for all.

The FSSAI's stringent regulations on fruit ripening practices highlight the importance of food safety and public health. By banning the use of calcium carbide and promoting safer alternatives like ethylene gas, FSSAI is taking significant steps to protect consumers and ensure compliance with food safety standards. The collaboration between regulatory bodies, industry stakeholders, and consumers is crucial to the success of these efforts. As the mango season approaches, adherence to these regulations becomes even more critical to ensure that the fruits reaching consumers are safe and healthy. Through continued vigilance and education, we can move towards a future where harmful ripening practices are eliminated, and safe, natural methods are the norm.

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About the Author


Sunny Parayan

Hey there! I'm Sunny, a passionate writer with a strong interest in the healthcare domain! When I'm not typing on my keyboard, I watch shows and listen to music. I hope that through my work, I can make a positive impact on people's lives by helping them live happier and healthier.

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