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Is The Gas Used To Ripen Fruit Safe For Consumption?

Fruits are a necessary part of a healthy diet. They provide sweet treats for adults and children alike without the added sugars of other snacks. Fruit is a great source of vitamins that are needed to maintain your body. They can be eaten raw, consumed as a juice, cooked in pies or canned for later use after the harvest has long past.

How Do Fruits Ripen Naturally?

Before fruits ripen, they are usually hard and unattractive to humans or animals that would potentially eat them. This is how the plants protect their seeds until they are ready to be prolific themselves. Ripening begins to occur once the chlorophyll begins to dissipate in the plant. The starches turn into natural sugars and the acids are broken down. The fruit’s hard exterior begins to get soft and the aromatic molecules begin to fill the air.

The tree’s hormones actually control the ripening of the fruit. They release ethylene gas which is what causes the ripening effect. Without the plant’s ability to produce the necessary ethylene, the fruit cannot ripen naturally.

Manual Ripening and Its Health Effects

In the United States, manual ripening is regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. Fruits are generally picked prior to their ripening. They are then exposed to ethylene gas in the warehouses so that they are fresher when they reach the grocery store. The FDA has deemed the use of ethylene gas safe for ripening fruit.

Some countries ripen fruit with acetylene gas. In the US, we use acetylene gas for numerous things such as welding but not for ripening fruit. Acetylene is not naturally produced by fruit bearing trees. It contains phosphorus and arsenic which are both extremely toxic to human beings. Many countries have banned the use of acetylene gas for fruit ripening purposes however; others still use it. Fruit safety is very important.

Acetylene is not meant to be ingested. It can cause vomiting and diarrhea. Irritation of the oral cavities, excessive thirst, weakness and a severe burning feeling in the stomach or chest are symptoms of exposure to acetylene.

Consumers must become aware and know where their fruits are grown. All fruits ripened in the United States are acetylene free products. Buying fruit grown elsewhere could be dangerous unless you know the country’s fruit ripening guidelines.

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