You must be aware of this consumer alert. Lately, there have been some unusually large kiwi fruit and watermelons out there on the shelves.
There has been a huge scandal around the largest base of these fruits in China. Farmers have been overusing growth chemicals to increase the weight of their harvest, trying to make extra money. But it’s not only Chinese farmers that use these growth chemicals, but others from countries that are top producers of these fruits.
According to MSNBC, the used substance is not forbidden by Chinese regulations, and it’s also allowed in the U.S. for use on grapes and kiwi fruit. Approximately 115 acres of watermelon and 20 farmers around the area of Danyang were affected, and as MSNBC explains the only thing farmers could do is to chop up the watermelons and feed pigs and fish.
CCTV reports that the farmers use a growth accelerator, called forchlorfenuron, during wet weather. Agricultural experts say that in such conditions the watermelons burst. This growth accelerator is registered for use on kiwi and grapes raisins in the U.S., Europe, Egypt, Chile, Mexico, Canada, Israel, New Zealand, Turkey, and South Africa.
What is Forchlorfenuron?
It’s a plant growth substance, known as cytokinin, which promotes the division of cells and delays cell death. Forchlorfenuron acts directly on septins, the key factor in cell division, and mitosis.
This results in too large a fruit looking as they will explode at any moment. The application of excess forchlorfenuron causes more rapid cell division which is a cancer-like function.
Although a higher number of cells means bigger fruits, it doesn’t mean that they will contain adequate nutrients for their size. The nutritional quality and stability of the fruit in fact tend to deteriorate.
The Pesticide Fact Sheet of US EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) states that forchlorfenuron causes emaciation, growth retardation, inflammation, and raised mortality in the tested rats.
Watch Out for White seeds in Watermelons
It is believed that wholesale markets sell watermelons treated with forchlorfenuron. The revealing signs are misshapen, fibrous fruit with more white than black seeds. The report points out that not only do farmers use legal chemicals, but they also use illegal ones, and that many farms misuse fertilizers and pesticides.
How to Recognize Fruit Grown with Growth Speeding Chemicals
The first sign that the vegetable or fruit you eat hasn’t been grown in a completely natural way, is its lack of flavor. Although it may look ripe and plump, it’s still not a flavor sensation. Forchlorfenuron and other growth accelerators stimulate the division of cells and speed up the growing process of fruit, but at the same time drain it of flavor. If you think about it, this is actually logical as the flavor comes with time and it’s a sign of ripeness. Many unripe veggies and fruits are almost tasteless.
When it comes to watermelons, if they are large with bright color on the outside, and have more white than deep red flesh on the inside, they have been treated with forchlorfenuron. Other revealing signs are white seeds (for regular watermelons, as the seedless naturally have small white seeds), and fibrous fruit which in some cases might have a strange shape.