Visakhapatnam: Rampant use of chemicals has dented the image of Anakapalle jaggery known for its color, aroma, and taste.

Experts say that white or light brown jaggery might be adulterated using chemicals and artificial colors. Calcium carbonate is added while processing jaggery to increase the weight, while sodium bicarbonate gives it a polished look.

Principal scientist and head at RARS, Anakapalle, PVK Jagannadha Rao said there were over 200 small and medium jaggery units in the Anakapalle region.

"Most of the units have been using chemicals such as sodium hydrosulphite (hydrose). Synthetic colors for being used for Light Yellow and White jaggery, which has a high price in the market," he added.

Jaggery is classified into grades based on its molasses content. But the traders and consumers have been grading the jaggery based on its color (white or light yellow).

Jagannadha Rao said that the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) specifies that sulphur dioxide levels in jaggery should be below 50 parts per million. "The level is, however, higher in Anakapalle region due to indiscriminate use of the hydrose. Use of hydrose in jaggery will weaken the bone strength and it also decreases the shelf life of the jaggery," he said.

Traders at the Anakapalle market in Vizag district said the consumers like the white jaggery. Traders claim that consumers feel dark color jaggery contains a lot of impurities. Anakapalle is the second biggest jaggery market in the country.

Secretary of Anakapalle Jaggery Market Yard, B Ravi Kumar said the market receives thousands of jaggery lumps a day from various parts of the region. However, there was no mechanism to test the quality (in terms of chemical contains) of the jaggery.

"Though Anakapalle jaggery is had a unique taste and aroma, there is a need to improve its quality. We are chalking out plans to install some equipment to determine the quality of the jaggery," he added.

White jaggery sells like hot cakes soon after its arrival in the market. Traditional jaggery, whose color ranges from dark grey to golden yellow, has very few buyers. "Hence most of the people are using the chemicals to polish jaggery," said V Demudu Babu, a jaggery maker in the Vizag district.

Star Points

Anakaaplle market receives jaggery lumps from October to May

The sugarcane area cultivation comes down to 90,000 hectares from 1.75 lakh hectares in the Vizag region

The best quality jaggery sells at Rs 360 per 10 kg, while the black jaggery sells at Rs 300 per 10 kg.

Traders in Anakapalle export jaggery to Odisha, Jharkhand, Bihar, West Bengal, and other states.

Jaggery makers in Uttar Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Odisha are now competing with Anakapalle counterparts.

What's good jaggery

-Well dried

-Free from dirt or soil

-Free from fungal and bleaching and added starch

-Colour-Light golden, Dark, Light brown, Brown

-Natural clarificants- Bhendi Powder, Moringa Leaf Extract, Aloe vera Juice, Lemon Juice

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