The past week has seen a lot of panicked conversation in Kerala about formalin contamination in fish. Formalin, which is derived from formaldehyde, is a carcinogenic substance and harmful to humans. And it is allegedly being used by fish traders to increase the shelf life of fish, which is otherwise easily perishable.
This has understandably caused concern among fish lovers in Kerala. However, thanks to Central Institute of Fisheries Technology in Kochi, you will soon be able to check for yourself if your fish has been laced with formalin or ammonia.
CIFT has developed a kit, which will reportedly be launched in a month, which contains rapid test strips. While these strips were developed a year ago, the lack of a commercial production facility limited CIFT to only give monitored quantities to food inspecting agencies.
Now, CIFT has signed an MoU with Mumbai-based HiMedia Laboratories Pvt Limited which will manufacture these testing kits, TNIE reported.
HiMedia professionals will go through a week-long training by CIFT on developing the kit. Both CIFT and FSSAI will monitor the quality control aspect. Leading the development of the kit will be CIFT scientists Laly SJ and Priya ER.
The kits for testing formalin and ammonia will be separate. Each unit will contain 25 testing strips with reagent solution and standard colour chart which will denote the level of contamination.
The contamination can be ascertained by rubbing the strip on the surface of the fish meat and adding a few drops of the reagent solution. The colour change can then be compared to the colour chart provided and the adulteration can be detected.
The cost of these kits will come up to Rs 3. CIFT director CN Ravishankar told TOI that once these strips are mass produced, the cost would come down by at least 25%.
To understand what is formalin and why it is harmful to human beings, read: Formalin-laced fishes seized in Kerala: What you should know about the substance