THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Following successive seizures of formalin-laced fish consignments at state border check posts, the Food Safety Department has decided to toughen its stand against the rogues. Indicating the same, Health Minister K K Shylaja said those engaged in such unscrupulous activities, ‘from source to destination’, will have to face criminal prosecution. They will be charged under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Food Safety and Standards Act.
The minister said this after holding a meeting with Food Safety Commissioner M G Rajamanickam, Joint Commissioner K Anil Kumar and other high-level officers at her office chamber on Tuesday.
“The inedible fish consignments were seized as part of the third phase of Operation Sagar Rani. The enforcement activities which commenced on June 9 have so far resulted in the impounding of 28,000 kg of inedible fish,” Shylaja said.
According to the minister, in the backdrop of the same, the Food Safety Department officers as well as the Enforcement Wing have been instructed to continue the surprise inspections at border check-posts and to register cases against those who bring formalin/ammonia-laced fish varieties to the state.
While the Chief Minister has been briefed about the situation, the minister further said the former has directed her to take stringent action against those behind the activity.
"The inspections carried out at Amaravila, Punalur, Manjeswaram and Walayar check posts led to the seizure of formalin-laced fish. With such consignments originating from our neighbouring states, we had sent them back and had alerted the respective Food Safety Commissionerates to discard the same. An action-taken report will be sought from them," the minister said.
Rajamanickam said inspections revealed the container trucks were not carrying the relevant documents, which prompted officers to trace the origin of such consignments and their destination.
When asked about this, the minister said the immediate priority is to check the influx of chemically contaminated fish. As the department is moving towards prosecution proceedings, she said, such aspects could be inquired later.
"If needed, the assistance of the Police Department will be sought," said Shylaja.
The Food Safety Department is of the view, once the Central Institute of Fisheries Technology starts introducing the paper strip technology on a larger scale, which is most likely to happen within a month, the general public can check the chemical contamination in fish varieties themselves.