The fish that Mumbaikars get during monsoon is not fresh. It is transported from Andhra Pradesh and Bengal, which takes a minimum of five to seven days to reach the city. And if the trucks carrying seafood gets delayed for any reason, it becomes difficult to further preserve it. Maintaining fish is even problematic as it can quickly perish away if not properly kept in cold storages. It remains in ice rooms or other storages for around 72 hours.
According to a report in The Times of India, lack of cleanliness by BMC-run markets adds onto problem in preservation. To keep the fish fresh for longer periods of time, they are laced with preservatives that are harmful for human consumption. In June, as part of Operation Sagar Rani, Kerala Food Safety and Fisheries Department seized close to 12,000 kg of fish from two districts which had formalin on it.
Following the incident, fish eaters in the country became sceptical if at all they were consuming poison. Formalin which was found in the seized fish can also cause cancer if taken in for a longer duration. The solution is mainly used to preserve organic specimen like dead bodies. When applied to food, it helps in increasing its shelf life.
Know if your fish is safe from formalin
- Fish laced with formalin will not look fresh. It makes the scales of the fish hard too. Check the fish by running your hand on it before cooking.
- While the solution is colourless, a strange odour and pungent smell will help you find the problem.
- While flies are common around fish, those sprinkled with formalin will not attract flies.
- You can also use chemical kits to test if the fish is good for consumption. A chemical testing kit containing 25 strips priced at Rs 3 each can be used. If the colour of the strip changes to blue on placing on the fish, it means it contains formalin.
While fish is loved and eaten by many in the country, chemicals are becoming a part of the food which is highly dangerous to the human body. These fish can also result in vomiting, liver problems, skin diseases, etc. It would be ideal to wash the fish thoroughly before cooking.