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Mango shortcut spoils taste for some

[ 2010-03-31 16:55]     字号 [] [] []  
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Consumers are being advised to wash fruit after it emerged that city wholesalers were using chemicals to finish the ripening process of mangos sold at Beijing fruit stands and markets.

Experts say the use of calcium oxide is probably spoiling the taste of the popular fruit as well.

Fruit wholesalers working in the lanes of the southern Beijing suburb of Daxing district freely admitted to blending limewater with ethephon to create a "catalyzing wad" of calcium oxide.

A wholesaler surnamed Zhu said fruit sellers soak toilet paper in the chemical liquid and put the paper at the bottom of boxes of mangos imported from Hainan province. The boxes are then moved into heated storehouses where the green fruit turns into its characteristic yellowy orange in two days.

"I'm afraid all the mangos would be rotten by the time they got to Beijing if they were allowed to ripen naturally in Hainan," Zhu said.

He added that he has been using the "catalyzing wads" for five years and selling about 40 crates of the chemically ripened mangos each day.

The chemical intervention costs the wholesalers about 1 yuan for every kilogram of fruit.

Zhu said the artificial ripening process has developed into a cottage industry, with vendors in the fruit wholesale district of Xinfadi selling limewater and others making "catalyzing wads".

Experts said the use of limewater and ethephon is potentially harmful to both the health of the consumer and the taste of the fruit.

Gao Aiping, director of the Tropical Fruit Trees Research Center, Chinese Academy of Tropical Agricultural Sciences, said fruit ripened this way is inferior in taste and both the peel and pulp are affected.

"Most of the mangos are only half-ripe when they arrive in Beijing. The fruit will only be partially full and the nutrition and flavor of the mango will be greatly reduced," Gao said.

Wang Baogang, a researcher with the Beijing Academy of Agriculture and Forestry, said ethephon has a low level of toxicity but suggested keeping its intake to a minimum.

He added that the lime in the limewater could potentially burn because it releases heat when in contact with water.

But Wang said consumers should not panic. Lime is used in the "catalyzing wad" to release the ethylene in the ethephon and the lime will not penetrate the mangos' skin.

However, he did warn that it would be advisable to wash the fruit before eating it.


1. Why are consumers being warned about mangos?

2. How are they using the chemicals?

3. What other effect does this have on the fruit?


1. City wholesalers are using chemicals to finish the ripening process.

2. Fruit wholesalers are blending limewater with ethephon to create a "catalyzing wad" of calcium oxide to help ripen fruit in boxes.

3. Experts say the use of calcium oxide is spoiling the taste of mangos.


(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Mango shortcut spoils taste for some

About the broadcaster:

Mango shortcut spoils taste for some

Nelly Min is an editor at China Daily with more than 10 years of experience as a newspaper editor and photographer. She has worked at major newspapers in the U.S., including the Los Angeles Times and the Detroit Free Press. She is fluent in Korean and has a 2-year-old son.