A Kerala Swathantra Matsya Thozhilali Federation member bravely eats the raw prawns in front of the public at Secretariat to allay the fears against the propaganda of adulterated sale of fish. (Photo | BP Deepu/EPS)
PALAKKAD: The Food and Safety Department (FSD) officers seized 4,000 kg of prawns, suspected to have been treated with the banned chemical formalin, from Walayar in the early hours of Sunday.
The prawns were being transported from Andhra Pradesh to Aroor for processing. Though initial tests revealed the presence of formalin in the prawns, samples have been sent to the laboratory in Kakkanad for further tests. It will reveal whether the entire load was treated with formalin, which is a solution of water and formaldehyde, a chemical compound which poses significant danger to human health
“More than 45 fish lorries were inspected at the check-post and formalin was detected in only one of them. Only after receiving the test report of the prawns will any action be initiated against those involved,” said Assistant Commissioner of Food Safety George Varghese.
The vehicle has been sealed and moved to the processing centre in Aroor. “FSD had intensified the inspections at checkposts following the seizure of 6,000 kg of stale fish last week from Walayar. The entire consignment of 6,000 kg was sent back,” said Varghese. Fresh fish consignments reach Kerala from Tamil Nadu as well as Andhra Pradesh through the Walayar checkpost.
The absence of required number of FSD personnel has hindered the daily inspection of lorries at various checkposts. Though there is a need for 13 personnel, only eight are currently employed in the FSD. Hence, inspections are conducted only twice or thrice a month. In the last two back-to-back inspections of fish lorries, it was found the consignments were either treated with formalin or were stale.