SRINAGAR: The Food Safety Department of Kashmir on Thursday rebuked the claims as baseless about premature ripening of watermelons with the use of chemicals and assured that the department remains committed to maintaining stringent food safety standards.

Deputy Commissioner Food Safety Department Shugufta Jalal said that the experts, who specialise in food technology, have conducted rigorous tests across the region and that the claims of premature ripening are baseless.

She said that the tests include both surveillance and in-depth analysis using advanced equipment, and the results have confirmed that the watermelons are safe for consumption.

She said that the watermelons are grown throughout the year in various parts of India due to the country’s diverse climatic conditions which makes the fruit available in all seasons, contrary to the claims that it is not a seasonal fruit.

Shagufta said that the department has been proactive with teams deployed and mobile testing vans stationed in key areas across Kashmir to conduct on the spot testing.

She criticized the oncologist for not consulting with the authorities before making public statements as such remarks have caused undue distress among the population.

“The department remains committed to maintaining stringent food safety standards and preventing misinformation from causing panic. We continue to monitor the situation closely and are dedicated to communicating transparently with the public to uphold trust and ensure the health and safety of all consumers,” she said.

The controversy erupted after a social media post by a doctor went viral, suggesting that watermelons available in the market were artificially ripened using chemicals.

The claim raised alarm among consumers, as watermelons are a staple fruit during Ramadan, often consumed during Iftar. (KNS)