The Quality Council of India has begun testing fish samples lifted from the trucks arriving at state borders from the neighbouring states. However, the method adopted by the QCI for spot test is the same old one, which had been used by the state food and drugs administration by using the kits from the Kochi-based Central Institute of Fisheries Technology.
It has come to light that no new ‘protocol’ has been established by any concerned authorities for drawing samples from the fish consignments entering the state to test for added formaldehyde, a cancer-causing agent.
Questions have now been raised as to what was the need for the state health department to rope in the QCI if the same old method was to be used for testing the fish samples.
QCI officials posted at the Pollem in South Goa and Patradevi in North Goa check-posts have started testing the fish samples using the CIFT kits.
Vishwajit Rane has said the QCI officials checked fish samples from 19
fish carrying vehicles at both the check-posts. Of the 19 vehicles, three were sent back as they did not possess
There were four vehicles that were carrying fish consignments for exports while the rest of the vehicles transported the fish meant for local consumption. No added formalin/formaldehyde was detected in the fish samples.
The QCI has also been directed to carry out sampling and testing of fish at various markets, including the Margao wholesale fish market, through its mobile lab by using the CIFT kit.
On September 12, 2018, the health department had issued a clarification after an activist demonstrated, finding fault with the CIFT kit method adopted by the FDA to test imported fish for formalin.
This clarification had been sought by the FDA from the CIFT.
“If a fish of 50.0 gram is dipped in/smeared with 10.0 ml of formaldehyde solution of 5.0 ppm concentration then the final expected theoretical concentration in fish would be 1.0 ppm,” the CIFT explanation says.
The CIFT explanation clearly says that if the added formaldehyde is in less quantity then the kit will prove to be ineffective and fail to detect the same.
Hence the FDA on Monday issued an office memorandum recommending a confirmatory test. If the spot test by QCI officials detects formaldehyde in fish, but if the CIFT kit is unable to detect the added formaldehyde in less quantity then there is a possibility of the formalin-laced fish reaching local markets.