Fish-eaters are averse to using it amid alarming reports about fish with high levels of formalin being sold in the state. Several tons of fish brought to various markets in the state have been seized and the consignments were sent back after spotting the presence of the carcinogenic chemical, which is commonly used to preserve dead bodies in morgues.
Since refraining from eating seafood and fruits are not long-term options, taking caution and cleaning them thoroughly is the best we can do. People, particularly children and expectant woman, should at least abstain from consuming suspect fish till the end of the trawling ban.
Taking a few measures before cooking and consuming fish, vegetables and fruits are a must as most raw edible food available in the market is contaminated.
Using the Rapid Detection Kits (CIFtest) devised by the Central Institute of Fisheries Technology (CIFT) is the most reliable method to find the presence of formalin and toxic chemicals in fish. The kit will be available in markets soon. The kit includes a reagent solution and paper strips. Rub the fish with the paper and then, put a drop of the solution on the paper. If it changes colour and turns blue, it means the fish is adulterated.
Fish tend to have hard scales and a rubbery flesh when they are treated with formalin. It appears fresh for longer than usual period also.
If you find that there is formalin in fish or fruits, throw it away if the levels are alarmingly high. If the presence is not that strong, do the following steps to free them from contamination:
- Immerse fruit or fish in salt water for one-and-a-half hours. After that, immerse it in vinegar-water solution (20% vinegar, 20% water) for another hour.
- For fruits, immerse them in salt water for an hour and then wash them with normal water.
- For vegetables, use salt water with a 10-90 salt-water ratio. Dip them in it for 15 minutes before washing with normal water.
- Peel the fruits and vegetables before using if you suspect contamination.
- Washing with chlorinated or brine water also helps in removing chemicals.
Again, the above methods are not fool-proof and does not ensure you 100% elimination of the formalin or other toxic content. It is advisable to get rid of he contaminated food if the levels of toxic substances are significant.