Thiruvananthapuram: The human rights commission has directed food safety, health and fisheries departments to jointly form a task force to check the use of chemicals in the preservation of fish. The commission said that the task force should conduct frequent inspections.
Commission acting chairman P Mohanadas said that the departments must ensure that public gets quality fish.
The commission asked departments to make sure that inspections are carried out in all fish markets and ports in the district and constantly take samples for testing. “Corporations and panchayats have to jointly organize awareness campaigns as a second phase of Operation Sagar Rani, which was conducted in February to check use of chemicals in fish,” the commission said. “Hoardings against use of chemicals must be erected in places of sale. Handbooks and notices must be provided against use of chemicals,” he said.
The commission was considering the petition of Manu C Mathew, C J Johnson and Ajith against use of chemicals in fish.
When commission sought report from food safety department, it confirmed presence of chemicals in fish. In the inspection during Sagar Rani, food safety department has found use of formalin in ice, which is used to preserve fish. Also sodium benzoate too was found to be used in preservation of fish.
In the inspections conducted along with marine police, the food safety department has taken samples for testing. It found presence of formalin in 15 samples and sodium benzoate in 5 samples.
Sources at the food safety department said that it was difficult to catch the real culprits in such cases. “Mostly, the chemical treatment happens in the auction centres or by wholesale dealers. Only the retail fish vendors will be nabbed,” sources said.
“We cannot say use of chemicals in rampant. But use of chemicals is seen mostly when fishermen get good catch. They will keep some for future use after treating with chemicals. They also lack proper preservation methods like use of refrigerator,” said food safety officials.