THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: With the demand for fish soaring amidst lockdown, sale of toxic and stale fish has become another health scare. The Food Safety Department destroyed 2865 kilograms of fishes which are not fit for consumption from various markets in the state on Sunday. As many as 165 inspections, under Operation Sagar Rani, were held in all districts except Kasaragod where a complete lockdown is still in force.
"In the wake of unscrupulous elements using lockdown period to sell contaminated fish, we have decided to strengthen the inspections under Operation Sagar Rani," said Health Minister KK Shailaja.
Most cases were reported from Kollam (26) and Kozhikode (24) followed by Palakkad (15), Pathanamthitta (14), Kottayam (13), Thrissur (12), Malappuram (12) Ernakulam (11), Alappuzha (10), Kannur (7), Wayanad (5) and Idukki (4).
Some of the fish samples collected had traces of formalin, a toxic chemical widely used as tissue preservative, said a Food Safety Officer. The government has allowed restricted fishing from Saturday as the demand for the fish increased and to help fishermen community in distress. However, there was no restriction for fish consignments
from Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat continued to arrive through the checkposts.
Operation Sagar Rani was launched to ensure safety and hygiene at fish handling and distribution centres in the state in 2018. It held awareness programmes for fish workers, merchants and public about the health hazard caused due to chemicals used for preserving fish. In the second stage, samples of fish and ice were collected for testing its toxic content and it was in the third stage it launched inspections.
In the recent operation, merchants in Kollam, Pathanamthitta, Alappuzha and Ernakulam have been issued notices.