6,000 kg of formalin-laced fish seized in Kerala
At least 6,000 kg of fish laced with formalin, a carcinogenic substance used to preserve cadaver, were seized at a check post in Kerala’s Palakkad on Saturday.
The fish, mainly prawns, came from Andhra Pradesh and was meant for a fish processing unit in Kochi, state food safety officials said.
The seizure comes a week after officials seized 14,000 kg of fish from eight trucks and sent them back to the originating place with a warning that they were not edible in any form and should be destroyed immediately after alerting their counterparts in Andhra Pradesh.
Tests conducted later at the Central Institute of Fisheries Technology in Kochi found 63.9 mg of formalin in a kilogram of fish.
Medical experts said formalin (formaldehyde) which is generally used to preserve bodies can cause serious ailments like cancer.
In 2011, the US National Toxicology Program had dubbed formaldehyde as a human carcinogen.
“Formalin poses serious health hazards. Once inside the body, it triggers a metabolic process and produces toxins. While cooking, its toxicity never gets spoiled,” said health expert Dr Mathew Thomas.
“We have stepped up our vigil and will conduct tests randomly at fish markets to find out the possible mix,” said assistant food safety commissioner A K Mini.
She said her department has written to the state government to allow only refrigerated trucks to carry fish.
The state food safety department has carried out drive called ‘Operation Sagar Rani’ following complaints about the deteriorating quality of fish.
A major fish-eating state, Kerala consumes 2,500 tonne of fish daily. Since domestic supply caters to 60% of its needs, there is a heavy dependence on other states. To meet the growing demand, the state fisheries department has started inland aquaculture and cage farming in a big way, but these measures are yet to reduce meet the consumption demand.