Conventional Fruit Ripening Methods
Most climacteric fruits in India are ripened with industrial grade calcium carbide. Industrial-grade calcium carbide usually contains traces of arsenic and phosphorus, and, thus, use of this chemical for this purpose is illegal in most countries. In India too, use of calcium carbide is strictly banned as per PoFA (Prevention of Food Adultration) Act [Section 44AA]. Calcium carbide, once dissolved in water, produces acetylene which acts as an artificial ripening agent. Acetylene is believed to affect the nervous system by reducing oxygen supply to brain. Arsenic and phophorus are toxic and exposure may cause severe health hazards.
The only safe and worldwide accepted method is using ethylene, which is a natural hormone, for ripening when done under controlled temperature and relative humidity conditions.
Ethylene being a natural hormone does not pose any health hazard for consumers of the fruits. It is a de-greening agent, which can turn the peel from green to perfect yellow (in the case of bananas) and maintain the sweetness and aroma of the fruit – thus value addition in the fruit is possible as it looks more appealing. It has been known for a long time that treatment of unripe fruits with ethylene would merely stimulate natural ripening until the fruit itself starts producing ethylene in large quantities.
In today’s globalized world, customers are increasingly quality conscious. If fruits are properly ripened and displayed in presentable form with attractive colour, they definitely attract more buyers.