Thiruvananthapuram

Scarcity of detection kits

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Despite the spirited efforts to rein in the import of contaminated fish consignments, food safety enforcement faces the prospect of losing steam, thanks to bureaucratic hurdles.

While rapid detection kits, developed by the Central Institute of Fisheries Technology, have been a crucial component in enforcement, paucity of funds has forced food safety officers to adopt other methods to detect adulteration of fish with formaldehyde and ammonia.

Advance payments are mandatory for procuring the kits from the Central research organisation, which functions under the Indian Council of Agricultural Research. However, the State’s enforcement machinery is allowed to make payments only after procuring the kits. “The technicality has denied us a steady supply of the kits which are effective in detecting the presence of contaminants in quick time,” a food safety officer said.

Hence, enforcement could take a hit considering the limited time the food safety officials have to ascertain the quality of perishables at check-posts. Any let-up on the enforcement of regulations is also bound the affect the local fishing community, who will suffer the most if panic prompts a drastic drop in fish sales.

National Fish Workers Forum general secretary T. Peter demanded steps to plug the loopholes in the rules. He alleged that a section of food safety officers permit entry of fish consignments without proper examination in various parts of the State.

“Inter-State fish dealers apply turmeric powder on the gills of rotten fish to dupe consumers. No attempts were being made to rein in such practices,” he said.

Claiming out that there was no stringent mechanism to inspect fish consignments at the check-posts, S.S. Minu, Health Inspector of the Thiruvananthapuram Corporation, stressed on the need for a Central law to ensure joint surveillance efforts among States at the borders.

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Printable version | Dec 16, 2019 1:30:07 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Thiruvananthapuram/scarcity-of-detection-kits/article30170991.ece

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