A senior medical expert on Thursday said that formalin should not be used as preservative for fish, fruits or any products.
“Formalin is toxic which can kill a person irrespective of whether it is used in permissible limit or beyond permissible limit. It is the same chemical used to preserve dead bodies in mortuary,” said the expert on condition of anonymity.
He said that fish preserved in formalin if consumed causes irritation in the eyes, skin, stomach and throat. The expert claimed that the chemical even has a direct negative effect on corneas. He said that long term consumption or exposure to product preserved in this chemical may cause deadly cancer disease and kidney and liver-related ailments.
“The effect of formalin starts showing at a later stage, as this deadly chemical accumulates
first in the body and shows effect on the human body after a period of time. It is only at later stage that the negative effect of the chemical is seen on humans,” he said. He claimed that formalin is preferred by the fishing industry, as it is cheaper when compared to other eco-friendly preservatives.
Meanwhile, Dr S M Iqbal (consulting family physician and surgeon) claimed that even limited use of formalin is bad for health. He said that FDA should confiscate all the fish and it should not be allowed to be consumed, as it will create health hazards, which may lead to cancer in the long run. He said even fast foods should be checked by the authority and punish those using preservatives beyond limits.
Dr Iqbal said FDA should conduct raids at the source itself and should not stop but keep raiding after a gap of 10-15 days and create a sort of fear psychosis amongst the wrong doers, so that they can mend their ways and keep away from such crimes against humanity.
Prominent doctors and chemists in Margao said that the consumption of formalin, either directly or indirectly, leads to damage to body cells resulting in liver- and kidney-related ailments. They said that long-term consumption of formalin can lead to cancer.
“Formalin is found in soil and a few other substances. When it is very less – 0.03 parts per million (ppm) – our body has a mechanism to detoxify it. Formalin can cause irritation in eyes and can cause liver and kidney failure, besides several other problems. We are being slowly poisoned by the use of formalin as a fish preservative,” said a prominent Margao cardiologist Dr Francisco Colaco.
“Formalin can cause disorders in oral cavity, gastrointestinal tract, liver, kidney, lung and heart and the central nervous system in the early phase of reaction,” said a well-known chemist from Margao.
A female chemist S Desai said that formalin helps to keep the fish eyes fresh. Also, no flies sit on the fish once formalin is applied to it. “If a person eats formalin-applied fish for three years, there is a possibility of his or her kidneys getting damaged,” she said.