Carbide in ‘fresh’ fruits, bakery and restaurant ordered to tidy up

Carbide in ‘fresh’ fruits, bakery and restaurant ordered to tidy up
Clockwise from top left: The mangoes seized at Murgi Patti (Naga Bazaar). Plaza Restaurant kitchen. A section of the manufacturing unit of Popular Bakery. Ice box as seen by Food Safety officials at Modern Ice factory.


Morung Express News
Dimapur | July 21


The state Food Safety authority destroyed over 5000kgs of adulterated ‘fresh’ fruits, which were seized after testing positive for a carcinogenic artificial ripening chemical agent. The disposed fruits included mango, pomegranate, water melon and also tomato. Mangoes comprised the bulk of the impounded items weighing in at around 5000kgs.


The condemned fruits were disposed at the DMC Dumping Ground by Food Safety personnel led by the Nagaland Food Safety Commissioner I. Himato Zhimomi.


“The fruits and the tomatoes tested positive for (calcium) carbide,” said Zhimomi, who led Food Safety personnel at the fruits and vegetables wholesale market at Murgi Patti (Naga Bazaar) in Dimapur today.


Calcium Carbide is an industrial chemical known to speed up the process of fruit ripening and used more commonly in steelmaking and iron welding units. The use of Calcium Carbide for ripening of fruits is prohibited as per the Food Safety and Standards (Prohibition and Restriction on Sales) Regulations 2011.


According to Zhimomi, random samples of mangoes and pomegranate were collected on July 20. “The tests were conducted yesterday and we re-confirmed it today,” he said, while adding that samples of tomatoes and pomegranate collected today tested positive as well.


He termed the exercise as “surprise checks” to further assert that it is within the law to undertake such exercises as a regulatory authority. “We will be conducting more such surprise checks, particularly in Dimapur and of course in marginal markets like Kohima and other places.”


While asserting that the sellers cannot be ignorant of the law, he said that they should be cooperative to the demands of the Food Safety law as consumers have the tendency to buy whatever is available in the market.


The team also checked the working environment of an ice-cream factory (Modern Ice) located within Murgi Patti (Naga Bazaar). Food Safety officials took samples of water used in the unit and also the finished ice products for tests.


Of the factory, he said, “Prima Facie I find that it is very unhygienic. So I have ordered that it be shut down till they improve the systems and till the tests (reports) come.” He added that ‘Notice’ to improve the systems will be given to the management. He also directed district Food Safety officials to inspect more such units.


The team followed this up by visiting Popular Bakery and Plaza Restaurant. Zhimomi expressed dissatisfaction at the standard of hygiene followed at the two food units. “We will issue ‘Notice to Improve’ the place. This is absolutely unhygienic,” he said of the working environment at Popular Bakery’s manufacturing section as seen during the visit.


After checking the kitchen of Plaza Restaurant, the team decided to issue ‘Notice to Improve’ to the establishment as well. The restaurant’s kitchen was ordered to shut down meanwhile. The team could not inspect the bakery branch of the restaurant as its manufacturing unit is located across the inter-state border at Khatkhati, East Karbi-Anglong, Assam.


Zhimomi said that he will write to the authorities in Assam in this regard, while informing that more checks will follow in other established bakeries in town.


In the effort to make available safe food in the market, he sought the cooperation of the administrative authorities, the business community and the civil society.