30 districts lack fish testing kits

Recent seizures of fish treated with toxic chemical formalin by the Food Safety Department had triggered panic in Kerala. While spot testing kit was used to test fish consignments on transit in the neighbouring State, similar facility is yet to be used by Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) in 30 districts in the State, including Coimbatore. As of now, spot test kits are used only in Thoothukudi and Kanyakumari districts.

P. Amudha, Commissioner of Food Safety and Drug Administration, told
The Hindu
that FSSAI is already working with Fisheries Department on finding a solution on the issue.

“We have started testing fish with kits developed by the Fisheries College and Research Institute for testing formalin or other chemical added as preservatives in Thoothukudi and Kanyakumari districts” said Ms. Amudha.

The official added that use of test kits developed by FCRI in the two districts are on pilot basis.

The spot testing kits are used to check the use of preservatives in fish due to practical difficulties in lifting samples and testing them at Government approved food laboratories. During a recent inspection at Ukkdam new market here, the FSSAI team could only do a manual checking of stalls. The team, however, had seized 10 kg of rotten fish which was later dumped.

Apart from Thoothukudi, Kanyakumari and Nagapattinam, fish sold in Coimbatore have their origins from Andhra Pradesh, Odisha and Karnataka. While sea fish of certain varieties are brought from Odisha, those sourced from Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka are fresh water fishes like katla, rogue and mrigal.

According to H. Bawa, president of Coimbatore District Fish Traders Association, Coimbatore is among districts with highest consumption of fish in the State. Nearly 60 to 70 tonnes of fish are sold on Saturday and Sunday and 15 to 20 tonnes during weekdays here.

“After the recent raid, the association members visited 48 wholesale stalls at Ukkadam old market and 60-odd retail stalls in new market and advised traders not to sell damaged or chemically treated fish. The association also informed wholesale dealers in other States and Tamil Nadu, from where fish are sourced, not to send consignments treated with chemicals. We have decided to inform Food Safety Department if any such consignment comes to our attention,” said Mr. Bawa.

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