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Eat fruit, veggies at own risk

delhi Updated: Jul 28, 2010 00:23 IST
Sanchita Sharma
Sanchita Sharma
Hindustan Times
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The health ministry has raised a red flag over the hazards of eating vegetables and fruit.

A hormone used to induce childbirth and lactation is being injected in pumpkin, watermelon, brinjal, gourd and cucumber plants to make them bear bigger fruit, warns Minister for State for Health Dinesh Trivedi.

Trivedi wants states to crack down on the illegal use of the prescription drug Oxytocin in fruit and vegetable - a drug that can cause headaches, dizziness, confusion, seizures, heart disorders, sterility, nervous breakdowns and memory loss when taken over time.

Any kind of chemical ripening of fruit is prohibited under the Prevention of Food Adulteration Rules.

"Farmers are blatantly using hormone shots to speed up the growth of their vegetables. These hormones may cause irreparable damage to our health, if taken through these vegetables, over a period of time. The even more shocking is that the public/authorities are not aware of this malpractice," wrote Trivedi in a letter to Union Health Secretary Sujatha Rao.

Rao said she has asked the Food Safety Authority to examine if this is happening and submit its report in 10 days.

"If it is, it must be stopped," she said.

Trivedi wants better implementation of food safety bans on the use of chemicals such as copper sulphate solution that gives fruits and vegetables such as gourds, okra and watermelons their deep green colour.

Last month he raised an alert on the use of calcium carbide to artificially ripen fruits such as mangos, apples, papayas and guavas.

"Adverse effects of these toxins are under scrutiny and use of these chemicals needs to be urgently monitored," said Trivedi.

Though it's banned for use in animals, Oxytocin is also misused by the dairy industry to make cows produce more milk.