THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: With the demand for fish soaring amid lockdown, the sale of contaminated and stale fish has become another health scare. The Food Safety Department seized and destroyed 2,865 kilograms of fish which were not fit for consumption from various markets in the state on Sunday. Under ‘Operation Sagar Rani’, the department conducted 165 inspections across the districts, except Kasaragod where a complete lockdown is in force.
“Unscrupulous elements are using the lockdown period to sell contaminated fish and hence, we have decided to strengthen the inspections under Operation Sagar Rani,” said Health Minister K K Shailaja.
The most number of seizures were reported from Kollam (26), followed by Kozhikode (24), Palakkad (15), Pathanamthitta (14), Kottayam (13), Thrissur (12), Malappuram (12) Ernakulam (11), Alappuzha (10), Kannur (7), Wayanad (5) and Idukki (4).
Some of the fish samples collected had traces of formalin, a toxic chemical widely used as tissue preservative, said a food safety officer. In a bid to help the fishermen community in distress and to meet the increasing demand, the government had allowed restricted fishing from Saturday. Also, the fish consignments from Andhra Pradesh and Gujarat continue to reach the state through the check-posts.
Operation Sagar Rani was launched to ensure safety and hygiene at fish handling and distribution centres in the state in 2018. As part of it, awareness programmes were held among fish workers, traders and the public on the health hazards caused due to the consumption of contaminated fish. In the second stage, samples of fish and ice were collected for testing the toxic content and, it was in the third phase that the department launched the inspections. Those found selling toxin-laden fish were served with notices.