Cardamom given harmful coat in pursuit of ‘Alleppey Green’

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Cardamom being manually checked for chemical colouring in Idukki.  

Chemical colouring will botch crop’s export chances

Increased instances of chemical colouring in cardamom have been reported in Idukki, prompting the authorities to take action to prevent such adulterated crop from reaching the auction centres.

The chemical colouring may result in the rejection of the consignment, leaving a long-term negative impact on the cardamom export. The Food Safety Department has collected samples of cardamom to test for chemical colouring.

Benny Joseph, assistant commissioner, Food Safety Department, told on Friday that an awareness campaign among the farmers had been launched in association with the Spices Board of India against chemical colouring. However, farmers go for colouring, lured by high prices for the ‘first grade’ cardamom at the auction centres.

The quality of cardamom is decided by its colour, shape, size and oil content. ‘Alleppey Green’ is considered the best by the buyers and farmers tend to add colour to make the crop resemble Alleppey Green.

‘Demand will fall’

Mr. Joseph said if the trend continued, Indian cardamom would be rejected in the global market as other countries had strict norms on chemical residue. If it was found above the limit, the consignment would be summarily rejected.

There were carcinogenic elements in chemical colouring and legal action would be initiated if they were found in the samples, he said. The colouring is done at the dryer unit. A worker at a cardamom dryer unit in Peerumade taluk said the farmers insisted on adding the colour. In the domestic market, the colouring is not checked and it leads to rampant practice of adding colour to cardamom.

A.K. Vijayan, a scientist at the Indian Cardamom Research Institute, said that the farmers had been using chemical colours for nearly three years.

From October 1, cardamom reaching the e-auction centre at the Spice Park at Puttady would be checked. If chemical colour was found, it would not be allowed in the auction, he added. He said that legal action would be initiated under the Food Safety Act if the produce contained chemical elements.

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