Fruit traders in India are spray-painting produce to make it appear ripe in a bid to boost their sales, reports The Independent.
Footage passed to the UK newspaper this week shows a man at a stall in Delhi painting unripe lychees before putting them out for sale.
Despite the filmmaker warning him of the dangers of eating painted fruit, the trader explains he cannot wait for them to ripen and needs the money to survive, The Independent writes.
Dyes and chemicals are used by some farmers to disguise unripe or rotting fruits and vegetables, including known carcinogens malachite green and calcium carbide, the report said. In 2015, India’s food regulator found 20 per cent of Indian food had been adulterated in some way or misbranded.
Professor Anthony Dayan, retired toxicology academic from Barts hospital, told The Independent that consumption of malachite green had particularly alarming health implications.
“Low doses of malachite green over a long period damage the liver and the kidneys, and are associated with cancer,” he said.
Dr Vikram Patel, Professor of International Mental Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, told the newspaper that Indian farmers were facing crippling pressure to stay in business, which pushes some to drastic measures to increase the yield they send to market.
“Indian farmers are in considerable distress," he told The Independent.
“Many of them have very small holdings and are increasingly finding competition from larger agricultural operations. Globalisation of agriculture threatens the livelihood of farmers which, along with climate uncertainty, makes farming a risky profession."