Expressing his helplessness in view of the shortage of staff at the Directorate of Food and Drugs Administration (FDA), Health Minister Vishwajit Rane on Thursday said that it was not possible for the FDA officials to check fish from every crate of the containers for the presence of adulterants.
“It is not physically possible to check each and every fish from the containers entering Goa; we have restrictions, as the number of FDA employees designated to carry out the spot tests is limited,” said Vishwajit in a voice note shared with media persons.
He was reacting to the news reports wherein it was allegedly found that FDA staff, instead of drawing samples of fish by themselves at the border check posts, were conducting spot test on the samples drawn by the truck drivers and helpers. It is alleged that there could be a possibility that truck drivers and helpers, being in the know, would not remove samples from the crates which contain contaminated fish.
“We need to randomly check the containers and draw samples for spot tests and beyond this, we would like to leave it to the wisdom of the press and assure them that we are doing our best and continue to do our job,” he said.
As the lapses by FDA officials have come to light, the formalin-in-fish scare continues in the state and questions are being raised on the quality and safety of the fish imported from the neighbouring states.
Deputy Speaker and Calangute MLA Michael Lobo urged the FDA to address the shortfalls and ensure that the fish imported in the state is safe for human consumption. “We have learnt there is shortage of staff in FDA. They should hire and fill the gap. FDA, being an independent body, it ought to see that there are proper checks and the fish is safe for Goans,” he said.
Savio Mesias, president of Travel and Tourism Association of Goa, asked the FDA officials to act responsibly in ensuring the quality of the imported fish in the local market. “It is a shame if they are doing what has been reported by media,” he said.