Fruits ripened by chemicals are rampantly displayed at markets in Vietnam, even though it is common knowledge that such chemicals are harmful to the health of consumers.
Farmers and sellers apply chemicals to keep fruits in a batch evenly ripe and attractive for better sales and profits.
Most consumers are unable to distinguish fruits ripened on trees and fruits ripened by chemicals, except some experienced ones.
Eating such chemical fruits can negatively impact the liver, gall bladder, heart and other internal organs in the long term. Other consequences include unconsciousness and eyesight problems.
Ms. Tan Thanh, from Binh Thanh District in Ho Chi Minh City, said her solution to avoid chemical fruits and other products is to buy them from the same sellers to gain mutual confidence.
Sellers are more experienced than most consumers and they are worth trusting, she said.
Thanh said one day she went to buy jackfruit and her fruit seller told her she should not buy the fruit that day.
“Tomorrow I will sell jackfruit ripened on a tree for you,” she recalled her seller telling her.
Fruits ripened by chemicals don’t taste or smell as good as naturally ripened fruit, but the latter don’t look as good as the former, she said.
A VnExpress journalist visited a pesticide shop in Krong Pak District of the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak to ask for chemicals to ripen fruits.
He was offered a 0.5 liter bottle with a label that read “senior leaf fertilizer”.
The sellers explained that it is disguised under a different label to evade inspections by authorities.
Chemicals used to ripen fruits are popular in most pesticides shops throughout Vietnam.
In advanced nations, farmers do ripen fruits using ethylene, a kind of chemical that is not harmful to human health but is expensive, said a farming expert.
In poorer nations like Vietnam, India, Nepal and Bangladesh, farmers often use acetylene and ethephon, which are cheaper but more harmful.
Acetylene at a concentration of at least 33 percent can lead to unconsciousness, he added.