Calcium Carbide Used In Ripening Fruits Is Toxic To Your Body; Here’s How?

Last updated on August 26th, 2023 at 05:39 pm

10 minutes read.   

In this article;

Overview

Calcium carbide, also known as calcium acetylide, is a chemical compound with the chemical formula of CaC2. It’s mainly used in the industry to produce acetylene and cyanamide.

Unfortunately due to the quick ripening demand among fruits producing companies and traders and to reduce damages for farmers, this known toxic chemical have been adopted by many to induce ripening process in fruits.

Calcium carbide is never meant to ripe fruits, because it has the ability to produce acetylene gas which can change the colour of fruits to yellow hence the fruits traders take the advantage.

This chemical is often contaminated with other impurities such as arsenic acid and phosphorus which are very toxic chemicals if ingested.

Although calcium carbide have been banned in many developed countries but some countries are freely using it to ripe fruits. Example: in Nigeria cities many fruits traders use calcium carbide to ripen banana, and sometimes mangoes.  Such may also be found in India.

Calcium carbide have demonstrated toxic effect to liver, kidney, red blood cells, and gut microbes in several animal study.

In addition, it deteriorate the nutrients especially the vitamins and flavour quality of the fruits. In that way, the fruits will no longer deliver the intended health value the consumer needed.

This article tell you all the potential damages you could be exposed to eating fruits ripen with calcium carbide including their symptoms to know.

Follow me closely.

Why You Need A Clean Fruit Ripening.

Fruits are a good source of vitamins and minerals, and play an important role in preventing vitamin C, vitamin A and antioxidants deficiencies.  

People who eat fruits as part of an overall healthy diet generally have a reduced risk of chronic diseases. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends five servings of fruits and vegetables every day for a healthy living.

Unfortunately, in some area, the health benefits of fruits now depend on how they are ripened. The best course will be to allow them to ripen on the plant itself.

After proper maturity, fruits ripen in nature by using many physical and biochemical events which involve naturally releasing a ripening hormone called ethylene (ethene). This process is irreversible and leads to senescence (aging).

The fruits become soft, change in colour, and develop characteristic aroma and flavour.

The complex sugar (sour test) then changes to simple sugar (sweet test), and reduction in acid content.

Why Do They Use Calcium Carbide To Ripe Banana?

Many factors influence the process of ripening including temperature and relative humidity.

It is not always easy for the commercial fruit traders to wait for the fruits to ripen naturally as they need to make turn up before the fruits begin to damage.

More often than not, they need to be transported over long distances and if they had been harvested in a ripe stage, they get spoilt before reaching their destination.

For such situations, farmers harvest them much before they get ripe. The traders then ripen them artificially at the destination using certain chemicals.

Most fruits naturally produce a gaseous compound called ethylene (ethene) that starts the ripening process.

Its level in under-ripe fruit is very low, but as the fruits develop, they produce larger amounts of the ethylene that speeds up the ripening process or the stage of ripening known as the “climacteric.”

Recent studies have shown ethylene regulates the expression of several genes, which are involved in fruit ripening.

These enzymes convert complex polysaccharides into simple sugars and make the skin of the fruits soft. In artificial ripening, this process is mimicked using chemicals.

Related: Find Out How Ethylene Are Used To Induce Banana Ripening.

What Does Calcium Carbide Do To Fruits?

Calcium carbide are regularly used in ripening banana and mangoes in some cities where regulatory body is not serious in enforcing the ban.   

When calcium carbide are applied on fruits, it produces acetylene gas, which is an analogue of ethylene.

However, it pose several problems. It is explosive in nature and several studies have shown that it breaks down the organic composition of vitamins and other micronutrients in fruits they are used on.

Besides, it changes only the skin colour: the fruit remains raw somehow inside.

In addition, industrial grade calcium carbide is often found contaminated with trace amounts of arsenic and phosphorus, which are known very toxic chemicals.

Other common chemical used for ripening fruit include ethephon (2-chloroethylphosphonic acid). It penetrates into the fruit and decomposes ethylene.

Potential Symptoms Of Arsenic Acid And Phosphorus If Ingested Include:

  • vomiting,
  • diarrhoea with/without blood
  • weakness
  • burning
  • sensation in the chest and abdomen,
  • thirst, problem in swallowing
  • burning of eyes
  • permanent eye damage
  • ulcers on the skin
  • mouth, nose and throat

Other symptoms include

  • sores throat ,
  • cough,
  • wheezing and
  • shortness of breath.

Symptoms To Look For When You Consume Fruits Ripen With Carbide

What Happen If You Consume Fruit Ripen With Calcium Carbide?

Consumption of artificially ripened banana or mangoes can upset your stomach. You will feel more gas and sometimes stomach pain.

It gradually damages the mucosal tissue in the stomach and disrupts the function of intestinal protective bacteria. If you are exposed to the chemicals for a long time, they can causes peptic ulcers.

Let me tell you a brief story of mine.

I was a victim of all am telling you here. I love to eat banana a lot because we had many banana trees in our compound.

When I was living with mum in the village she normally harvest banana and ripe them naturally by washing it with locally produced detergent, arrange it in a local basket and cover it with wool sack bag, keep sprinkling water once every day.

Within one week or less it will ripe. She will packed them bunch by bunch in train pan and give me to go and hawk in our village market.

Sometime she will ripe a whole bunch of banana for us to enjoy.

So when I was eating the banana it make me feel good and I never had unpleasant symptoms after eating banana. So from a very younger age I know banana as a good fruit that make one feel good and produce smooth pasty stool.

When I travelled to stay in the city, as someone who loved banana much I eat banana one to two times every week.

After eating I will no longer have the same good feeling I use to have when I was eating my village banana. Everything changed. I became confused.

It get me asking myself a question, “why is it that when eat banana I feel more gas and stomach upset? I never got the answer to this question.

I said to myself I will stop eating bananas bought from city again. I will wait until I go to village or I will go to village market and buy it.

Guess what? The feeling is completely different when I eat banana from village market simply because they ripe them naturally.

Then I know something strange is in city banana.

Not quite long I started hearing other people complaining about the awful feeling they have when they eat city banana. I heard some people saying “they use carbide to ripe banana in this city. I said really.

So I started researching about the toxic effect of carbide in the body. I was surprised when I read about what many studies have found about calcium carbide.  

Do you know I later develop peptic ulcer? Thank goodness am totally healed now as I have found the factors that contributed to my problem.

So from today start paying attention to how your body system react whenever you buy and eat a very attractive yellowish ripped banana or mango especially if you purchase them from city grocery.

Related: Check Out Other Factors That Can Contribute To Stomach Ulcer.

According to studies, calcium carbide can also affect the neurological system by inducing prolonged hypoxia.

Prolonged hypoxia may causes symptoms like:

  • headache,
  • dizziness,
  • high sleepiness,
  • memory loss,
  • cerebral oedema,
  • numbness in the legs and hands,
  • general weakness,
  • cold and damp skin,
  • low blood pressure and seizure.

Is it Safe For A Pregnant Woman to eat Carbide Ripen Fruit?

Pregnant women particularly need to be very careful and should not consume such fruits and vegetables.

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has banned calcium carbide under the Prevention of Food Adulteration (PFA) Act, 1954. Anyone using it can be imprisoned for three years along with a fine of Rs 1,000. However, no effective action plan has been devised to implement it.

How do you know that a fruit is ripen with carbide?

You can distinguish the artificially ripened fruit.

They will have uniform skin colour in fruits like tomato, mango, papaya.

In the case of banana, if it’s newly ripped, the fruit will uniform attractive yellow colour without any stain and will be hard when you feel the skin with your hand. Then the stem may be dark green. They flavour is reduced when compare naturally ripped banana.

If it have stayed up to four days or more it was ripped, then they will probably be mixed with yellow and black colour as normal ripped banana.

The fruits would also have lesser flavour and have shorter shelf-life deepening on the chemical treatment.

Also, if the fruits are available before season, it could mean they are artificially ripened.

Washing and peeling the fruits before eating may minimize the risks of calcium carbide. Analysis in standard laboratories can also be done to find out whether they are contaminated.

Let me tell you, the best method to find out is to monitor your body system whenever you eat such fruit and look out for the above mentioned symptoms.

Remember our immune response and body function differs. But be sure to pay attention for any awful feeling.

Frequently Asked Question

Is Calcium Carbide safe for ripening fruit?

Calcium Carbide is NOT safe for ripening.

Calcium Carbide is used in some countries as source of acetylene gas, which is an artificial ripening agent.

However, acetylene is not nearly as safe and effective for ripening as is for ethylene, and acetylene is not a natural plant hormone like ethylene.

Also, calcium carbide may contain traces of arsenic and phosphorus, both are highly toxic to humans, and so the use of this chemical for ripening is dangerous and illegal in most countries.

Conclusion

Calcium carbide is never meant to ripe fruits, because it has the ability to produce acetylene gas which can change the colour of fruits to yellow hence fruits traders take the advantage.

Calcium carbide have demonstrated toxic effect to liver, kidney, red blood cells, and gut microbes in several animal study.

In addition, it deteriorate the nutrients especially the vitamins and flavour quality of the fruits. In that way, the fruits will no longer deliver the intended health value the consumer needed.

In addition, industrial grade calcium carbide is often found contaminated with trace amounts of arsenic and phosphorus, which are known very toxic chemicals.

Consumption of artificially ripened banana or mangoes can upset your stomach. You will feel more gas and sometimes stomach pain.

It gradually damages the mucosal tissue in the stomach and disrupts the function of intestinal protective bacteria. If you are exposed to the chemicals for a long time, they can causes peptic ulcers.

Washing and peeling the fruits before eating may minimize the risks of calcium carbide. Analysis in standard laboratories can also be done to find out whether they are contaminated

However, the best method to find out is to monitor your body system whenever you eat such fruit and look out for the above mentioned symptoms.

Quit buying banana from that particular grocery and change to another. If the symptoms repeat, you should stop eating banana like me.

Another option is to visit local market and buy the full bunch unripe banana if you can afford it.

If you come home cut and wash them, arrange in a local basket or sieve cover with sack bag and spray water once daily on them until ripening start coming you stop because the process will continue and complete as soon as possible.

I hope you get the value worth your time, I appreciate the time you spend with me. Leave a comment below if you find this article helpful and don’t forget to drop your question, opinion or criticism if any. Cheers!

MEDICAL DISCLAIMER

The content provided in Living Good is for informational and educational purpose only. It’s not intended to provide medical advice or take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal doctor. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Living Good takes no responsibility for possible health consequences of any person(s) reading or following the information in this educational content. Viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over the counter medication, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement or lifestyle program.

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