• Enquiries with the staff of the QCI lab at Polem revealed that they are testing fish by CIFT test, this test is quick and cheap and as the name suggests it was developed by Central Institute of Fisheries Technology (CIFT).
• With complains coming from more states of presence of chemicals in fish, FSSAI asked the fish eaters to test fish for formalin with this easy-to-use CIFT kit.
• And also assured three years ago that these kits will be made available for 2 to 3 rupees in the fish market itself.
• But sadly, these kits are still not available in Goa and most of the Goans have gone to the belief that the fish is as fresh as when it was caught.
MARGAO: With all the deep-sea mechanized fishing vehicles on the west coast of India dropping anchor from 1st June the formalin in fish scare once again stares at the Goan fish eaters many feel.
Goa together with other states on the west coast of India enters the 61-day fishing ban from 1st of June which will last till 31st of July.
It may be recalled that the faith of Goan fish eaters was jolted in July 2018 when officials of Goa Food and Drugs Administration detected Formalin in fish while they descended in Margao wholesale fish market amidst allegations of chemicals being used for preservation of fish.
Formalin is a preservative allegedly applied on the body of fish to prevent its decay. Experts say that this chemical per se cannot be used for the preservation of fish which is meant for consumption.
As per the studies conducted on animal, formalin is a cancer-causing agent.
The issue was so serious that the sale of fish got reduced to more than half of what was sold prior to detection of formalin in fish.
The Goa government to get back the trust and faith of the Goan fish eaters, made it compulsory to transport fish through insulated trucks incase of fish brought from more than 60km.
Also the testing Centres were opened on the Goa borders at Polem and Patradevi.
Although the QCI (Quality Council of India) is an accredited agency to check fish that is imported to Goa for the presence of formalin and other chemicals, the way the QCI goes about testing the fish has itself raised many questions than answers, activists say.
Locals have voiced their concerns in the past over performing the tests behind closed doors in these laboratories.
“The fish trucks contain 120 crates of fish, the helpers collect a few fishes from the back of the truck, this is not a standard sampling practice, the fish has to be tested while unloading at the Margao
market Vishant Prabu informed.
Enquiries with the staff of the QCI lab at Polem revealed that they are testing fish by CIFT test, this test is quick and cheap and as the name suggests it was developed by Central Institute of Fisheries Technology (CIFT).
With complains coming from more states of presence of chemicals in fish, FSSAI asked the fish eaters to test fish for formalin with this easy-to-use CIFT kit.
And also assured three years ago that these kits will be made available for 2 to 3 rupees in the fish market itself.
But sadly, these kits are still not available in Goa and most of the Goans have gone to the belief that the fish is as fresh as when it was caught.
There are many who feel that the authorities are not taking this issue seriously, they say that the urge of the Goans to eat fish is so much that they can’t eat rice without fish.
And with all of the mechanised deep sea fishing crafts anchored for next 61 days, no fish will arrive in Goa from the west coast.
The fish that will arrive in Goa will be from the states which are on the east coast of India and not affected by the ban on fishing on the western India.
Normally Goa gets fish from Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala.
But the fish coming from east coast takes two days minimum to reach Goa.
The crushed ice used to preserve fish in transit gets melted and the process of decay gets faster, informed Francis Coutinho who has vast experience in cold storage and refrigeration.
He says that the decay of fish starts the moment it is out of water, deep sea fishing trawlers do fish for five days, they come with the catch, the fish is auctioned at the jetty, then the agents pack the fish in crates to be transported to different destinations.
“Now the fish which comes from say Andhra will arrive in Goa only after 7 days after being caught in the net, it’s very clear and simple as to why the fishermen and the agents get tempted to lace the fish with chemicals.
Thats the reason why formalin is allegedly applied on fresh catch to increase its shelf life and sensory attributes like colour. According to the FSSAI, regulation 2011, formalin is not permitted for use in foods as the chemical causes’ health implications such as severe abdominal pain, vomiting, coma, renal injury and death.