Vijayawada: The food safety department has booked over 255 cases in Krishna district for selling food products in violation of the Food Safety and Standards Act in the last year. Of these, 105 cases were booked for selling unsafe food products – an offence that is punishable by up to seven years in jail along with a fine of Rs 10 lakh.
Officials are about to launch prosecution proceedings in about 40 cases, it is learnt.
About 60 cases were slapped on fruit vendors for using carbide and other unsafe products to speed up the ripening of fruits. Though the usage of carbide to ripen mangoes was prohibited by the government, it is still being used heavily by wholesale fruit vendors. Apart from mangoes, carbide is being used to ripen oranges and papaya as well. Ethephon, a chemical used to regulate plant growth, is being used to ripen bananas.
Food safety officials have found a new type of product in the name of ethylene powder that was widely used across the state this season. Samples collected by sleuths of the food safety department were found to contain the ethylene powder, which was deemed to be unsafe.
Assistant controller of food safety, N Purnachandra Rao, said ethylene can only be available in liquid form. “We have booked cases against those who have used the unknown powder sachets that are mainly imported from China in the name of ethylene powder,” he said.
In the case of grapes, excess amount of pesticide residue was found to be higher than permissible levels. Waxing apples to preserve them for a long period of time is also a rampant practice, said Purnachandra Rao. Though the use of bee wax is permitted, vendors are using wax derived from petroleum products which will lead to intestinal disorders, he said.
As many as 10 hotels, 10 sweet shops and six manufacturers of child food were booked for using prohibited colours. Pulses and oils were seized for having adulterated content. While the oils and ghee are being adulterated with vanaspati and palm oil, pulses are being coated with artificial colours to give them a shining appearance.
Fruits that are artificially ripened using carbide are overly soft, and are also inferior in taste and flavour. They also have a shorter shelf life. When carbide is used in very raw fruits, the amount of the chemical needed to ripen the fruit has to be increased. This results in the fruit becoming even more tasteless, unhealthy and possibly toxic.