Fish imports tested for formalin at Goa border

Published: Jun 16, 2019, 20:45 IST | mid-day online desk

Goa Health Minister Vishwajit Rane said the checks were being conducted by the Quality Council of India assisted by state departments including Food and Drugs Administration

Fish imports tested for formalin at Goa border
Representational picture

Panaji: Five out of thirteen fish-laden trucks checked for formalin were sent back from the border by Goa authorities for lack of proper documentation, an official said on Sunday. The trucks were checked at Patradevi and Pollem borders in the north and south of the state late Saturday night, officials said.

"Three of five trucks at Patradevi and two out of eight trucks in Pollem were sent back because they did not have proper documentation. No formalin was found in any of the fish tested during the check," an official stated.

Goa Health Minister Vishwajit Rane said the checks were being conducted by the Quality Council of India assisted by state departments including Food and Drugs Administration.

An official said state Food Safety Commissioner Jyoti Sardesai was present at one of the checks on Saturday. The state had seen a scare last year after suspicion that some of the fish imported here was laced with formalin, a potential cancer-causing chemical.

On June 9, 2019, the Goa Congress alleged that formalin-laced fish continued to be sold in the coastal state's fish markets, accusing the BJP-led coalition government of not doing enough to rein in the use of the carcinogenic cadaver-preservative in fish sold in the state's markets.

The revelation came nearly a year after the use of formaldehyde in fish brought into the state from Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra during the monsoons, when fishing is banned in Goa, was exposed during a raid by the state government's Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) team.

"We have examined mackerels, which are staple fish for thousands of Goans, from the Margao fish market and a laboratory test revealed 2 ppm (parts per million) of formalin in the fish, which means formalin-laced fish is still sold in Goa," Goa Pradesh Congress Committee (GPCC) chief Girish Chodankar alleged.

"The government has failed to set up mechanisms to ensure sale of fish which is safe for human consumption," he said.

The controversy involving the use of formalin in fish erupted in July last year after an FDA team found traces of formalin in fish being sold in a South Goa fish market during a raid.

The BJP-led coalition government had been on the backfoot for several months after some of its ministers were accused of allegedly protecting fish traders who were importing formalin-laced fish consignments into Goa from Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

After the scandal, the state government banned the import of fish from neighbouring states, until fish traders registered with the state FDA and complied with its norms related to storage and transportation of fish. The ban had resulted in a considerable increase in the price of fish in Goa.

Fish is a staple diet consumed by a majority of the population of the coastal state, as well as the thousands of tourists who visit the Goa every year.

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