Goa FDA officer alleges harassment by govt after formalin detection in fish

The Goa government had in July banned the import of fish from outside the state, in view of the scare of formalin being found in it. (Representational Image)

A woman officer of Goa’s Food and Drug Administration (FDA) department has alleged harassment by the state government after her tests confirmed the presence of formalin, a toxic chemical, in fish imported to the state.

Iva Fernandes made the allegation in an application filed with the Goa Human Rights Commission (GHRC) last week. She also alleged that senior FDA officials had links with fish traders and demanded that their phone records be checked to verify it.

On July 12, Fernandes, who was part of the FDA team which tested fish at a wholesale fish market in Margao town of South Goa district, had confirmed the presence of formalin in fish.

In her application submitted to the GHRC, Fernandes attached evidence duly signed by all FDA officials who were present at the site (in July) for carrying out the inspection which was "positive" for traces of formalin in fish, she said.

"Instead of this being attended with seriousness, I have been sought to be targeted," she alleged.

Fernandes said she was not allotted duty for a considerable period of time after the expose, which forced her to approach the human rights commission.

The Goa government had in July banned the import of fish from outside the state, in view of the scare of formalin being found in it.

The FDA had earlier confirmed the presence of the organic compound in fish imported from other states.

However, the agency had later said the toxic chemical — used to preserve bodies and prevent its decay in mortuaries — was "on par" with its naturally-occurring levels in the sampled fish and there was no added amount of it.

The FDA had last month asked whole-sellers to comply with its guidelines before resuming fish trade in the state.