5 Health Hazards Of Using Mango Ripening Powder
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Come summer and it is definitely a joy to eat fresh fruits like mangoes, papayas, melons and even litchis. But a major problem that not only Indians but many people worldwide face, especially in the case of mangoes, is owing to the fact that artificial mango ripening powders are often used to ripen the fruits unnaturally. Artificial mango ripening powders, also known as mango ripening agents or mango-ripening chemicals, are substances used to artificially accelerate the ripening process of mangoes. These powders contain various chemicals, the most commonly used one being calcium carbide. 

The Harmful Impact Of Calcium Carbide

The use of artificial ripening agents, including calcium carbide, has raised concerns due to potential health risks. Calcium carbide itself is a hazardous substance and is not approved for food use in many countries, including in India. In fact, the Food Safety & Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has a ban in place for all mango ripening powders and chemicals including carbide gas. This is because calcium carbide can contaminate the mangoes with traces of harmful chemicals such as arsenic and phosphorus. 

In 2019, however, the FSSAI gave the go ahead to En-Ripe, an ethylene gas-encapsulated powder or mango ripening powder, created by a Hyderabad-based startup. An FSSAI guidebook from 2018 says: “Ethylene plays a vital role in natural ripening of fruits. It is a hormone produced naturally within the fruits to stimulate ripening process. Ethylene, being a natural hormone does not pose any health hazard to consumers. External application of ethylene gas generated from various sources such as ethylene gas cylinders, compressed ethylene gas, ethanol, ethephon, etc. can be used on fruits to trigger the ripening process in fruits.” 

Health Hazards Of Artificial Mango Ripening Powders 

Consuming mangoes ripened with artificial ripening agents may pose health risks and can be particularly harmful to individuals with respiratory conditions or sensitivities. Therefore, it is recommended to choose naturally ripened mangoes or those ripened using natural methods. While this, according to the FSSAI, means that any fruits ripened through the use of En-Ripe and other ethylene gases should be okay, it is best to avoid artificially ripened mangoes altogether.  

This is because consuming any fruits, including mangoes, that are ripened using artificial ripening powder, can pose many health hazards. Here are a few health hazards of eating mangoes ripened with artificial mango ripening powders.  

Chemical Residues

Artificial ripening agents, like calcium carbide, can leave chemical residues on the surface of fruits and vegetables. Calcium carbide itself contains traces of harmful chemicals such as arsenic and phosphorus. Consuming fruits or vegetables treated with these agents can lead to the ingestion of these contaminants. 


Calcium carbide, the most commonly used artificial ripening agent, is considered a hazardous substance. It is not approved for food use in many countries due to its potential toxicity. Consumption of foods ripened with calcium carbide can lead to adverse health effects such as gastrointestinal disturbances, skin allergies, and even neurological problems. 

Respiratory Issues 

The use of artificial ripening agents can result in the production of acetylene gas, which is a respiratory irritant. Inhaling this gas can cause respiratory problems, especially in individuals with pre-existing respiratory conditions such as asthma. 

Allergic Reactions

Some individuals may be sensitive or allergic to the chemicals present in artificial ripening agents. Consumption of fruits or vegetables ripened with these agents can trigger allergic reactions such as skin rashes, itching, or gastrointestinal distress. 

Nutritional Value

Artificially ripened fruits and vegetables may not have the same nutritional value as naturally ripened produce. The accelerated ripening process can lead to a loss of certain nutrients and affect the overall quality of the food. 

To minimize health risks, it is advisable to choose naturally ripened fruits and vegetables or those ripened using safe and natural methods. Look for organic produce, support local farmers who follow ethical practices, and opt for certifications that ensure natural ripening without the use of artificial agents.