In an attempt to restore the confidence of the people in the fish sold in formalin-hit Goa, the government has decided to rope in the Export Inspection Council and the Quality Council of India, which will keep a check on the quality of fish in Goa and Konkan.
Health Minister Vishwajit Rane on Friday held a meeting with Union Minister of Commerce and Industry Suresh Prabhu in the national capital on fish safety. The formalin row that continues to plague the state was discussed at the meeting, and a decision was taken to utilise the expertise of these two autonomous bodies.
EIC, which is the competent authority for certification of seafood for exports to different countries, has been asked to establish a state-of the-art laboratory in Goa to test formaldehyde in fish as per international standards.
Rane agreed to provide necessary support, including built-up space and other logistics, for setting up the laboratory at the earliest. Officials from the EIC, the QCI, the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India and the Marine Products Export Development Authority also attended the meeting.
At the meeting, the officials were asked to jointly establish a protocol with scientific justification for sampling and testing to detect the presence of formaldehyde in fish.
The EIC and the MPEDA will depute a team to Goa to have market survey and collect baseline information.
The team will suggest measures to be taken by the state government to eliminate the use of formaldehyde in fish.
The EIC will be responsible for monitoring the presence of formaldehyde in fish; it will report to the state government for further necessary action.
On the other hand, the QCI with the assistance of the state government will launch a mobile food testing lab in Goa with a facility to test formaldehyde in fish.
“The central government will spend on their own to create the facilities. In the next seven days, I will identify the place where their offices and laboratory would be set up. The facilities created here will also be used for Konkan,” Rane said.
He said the mandate of the EIC and the QCI will not be restricted to testing of fish, but also extend to milk, fruits and vegetables.