Fish in Mysuru is 'free from formalin'

Sea fish covered with ice at an outlet in Mysuru.

Fish eaters in the city need not panic about a formalin scare  as around 90% of the fish sold in the market are inland bred and random tests conducted so far in the outlets have proved that the fish are free from contamination and are safe for consumption, believe experts.

After the Food Safety department conducted ‘Operation Sagar Rani’ and seized large consignments of formalin-laced fish in Kerala, Tuticorin and Kanyakumari a couple of days ago, the fish market had got affected adversely.

Speaking to DH, Narayan, Deputy Director, Fisheries department, said, a ban on trawling is the main reason for the transport of huge quantities of fish from one state to the other. However, no such incident has been reported so far in Mysuru or Karnataka. Around 90% of the fish available in Mysuru are inland reared and the remaining 10% sea fish are transported from Mangaluru. The fish that are sold in the market and in shops across the city are from the KRS backwaters, lakes and a number of agricultural ponds.

The supply of fish is usually less during the month of June due to monsoon conditions. Moreover, the Fisheries department distributes fishlings to the rearers and fishing is not allowed during this time to prevent the young ones being caught and sold, he added.

‘Operation Sagar Rani’, a raid conducted by the Food Safety department officials, a couple of days ago, in the neighbouring state of Kerala, found that around 6,000 kg of sea fish, were laced with the  chemical preservative, formalin. Similarly, around 9,000 kg of fish seized in Tuticorin and Kanyakumari, was found to be preserved with formalin.

Dr Chidambara, Programme Officer, Food and Safety department, said the officials have already started the drive, though no complaint was received in this regard. “The head office in Bengaluru has issued a circular and the officials have visited a few malls and outlets. But, no such contamination has been reported. However, the final report will be available only after 15 days," he said.

The public can easily find out whether the fish is preserved using formalin as the fish emanates a pungent smell and also causes burning sensation in the eyes, nose and throat. Formalin keeps the appearance of the fish fresh for many days even if it is rotting otherwise.

The officer said formalin is a carcinogenic substance with a pungent smell. It is used to embalm the cadavers and is used in mortuaries and labs. It is being used to preserve fish which is easily perishable. It releases toxins once ingested and sustained consumption may cause cancer, it is said.

If the public detect any pungent smell in the fish sold in the market or have any suspicion about the quality, they can alert the Food and Safety department, who will immediately conduct a raid, he added

Contact: 0821-2438144.

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