THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: How safe is the fish you eat? With that yummy sardine fry, it is quite possible you also ingest harmful chemicals. Now, the Kerala State Human Rights Commission (KSHRC) has stepped in with instructions to the departments concerned to ban the sale of unsafe and low-quality fish.
In an order issued on Sunday, the commission’s acting chairman P Mohandas instructed the Departments of Fisheries and Health and the Food Safety Commissionerate to set up special task forces and conduct joint inspections in fish markets in view of the increasing presence of chemicals like formalin in fish. The KSHRC order came on a complaint from Manu C Mathew, C J Johnson and Ajith urging the commission’s intervention to stop the use of dangerous chemicals in fish sold in the state.
The departments should ensure good quality fish is sold to the public, the commission observed in its order. Inspections should be conducted in the fish markets functioning at the district, panchayat and taluk levels and also the fisheries harbours. The task forces should collect samples to ascertain whether chemicals are used, the commission said. In the second phase of ‘Operation Sagar Rani’ - the initiative launched by Food Safety officers in February to ensure hygiene at fish handling and distribution centres- the government should conduct awareness campaigns among the people.
The Food Safety Commissioner had reported to the commission chemicals were detected mostly in fish brought in from the neighbouring states. Upto 15 samples had tested positive for chemicals. Ice factories were using formalin in the manufacture of ice. In recent months, the use of sodium benzoate also has been detected. The commissionerate has intensified the vigil along the coast with the help of the Marine police. Meanwhile, the commission has instructed the government to install hoardings in fish markets against using chemicals in fish, the commission said.The commission has suggested the help of Kudumbashree workers and residents’ associations can be used for public campaigns in this regard.