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PIB Summaries 20 May 2024

  1. Calcium Carbide


Context:

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has alerted traders’/fruits handlers/Food Business Operators (FBOs) operating ripening chambers to strictly ensure compliance with the prohibition on calcium carbide for artificial ripening of fruits, particularly during the mango season.

Relevance:

Facts for Prelims

About Calcium Carbide

Chemical Composition:

  • It is a compound with the chemical formula CaC2 and is also known as ‘masala’.

Common Use:

  • Commonly used for ripening fruits like mangoes, it releases acetylene gas containing harmful traces of arsenic and phosphorus.


Manufacturing Process:

  • Manufactured by heating a lime and carbon mixture to 2000 to 2100°C (3632 to 3812°F) in an electric arc furnace.

Regulation:

  • Prohibited under the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restriction on Sales) Regulation, 2011.
Application

Industries:

  • Used in mining and metal industries, as well as in the production of acetylene gas.

Fruit Ripening:

  • Highly reactive and releases acetylene gas, which is used to artificially ripen fruits.
Health Impacts

Health Risks:

  • Can cause serious health issues such as dizziness, frequent thirst, irritation, weakness, difficulty in swallowing, vomiting, and skin ulcers.
  • Acetylene gas is equally hazardous to those handling it.

Residue Risks:

  • Calcium carbide may come into direct contact with fruits during application, leaving residues of arsenic and phosphorus on the fruits.

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