Cleaning the State’s Fishy Food Economics
The recent confiscation of formalin-laced fish bound for Kohima, Nagaland state’s capital, has opened a floodgate of enforcement actions against chemically contaminated food products. For instance, the state’s food safety commissioner has prohibited storage, distribution, and sale of fish products that possibly may have been treated with chemicals such as with formalin, or other forms of preservatives. Highly toxic and carcinogenic, formalin is used to preserve death bodies in mortuaries.
Nagaland has been dependent on other states to meet the growing demand for fish and other marine provisions because domestic supply cannot produce enough to meet requirements. And if the supply of aquatic food products is to be checked, it would be chemically treated in one way or the other because they are all highly perishable products due to the nature of their biological composition.
Since the implementation of the Food Safety & Standard Act of 2006 in the state, it was for the first time that the food safety commissioner for Nagaland issued a blanket ban on storage, distribution and sale of fish products.
Lately, one of the most neglected departments in the state showed a semblance of action to the public by truly demonstrating food safety enforcement: conducting testing on-the-site, for instance, was one. The mobile food testing facilities are helpful and truly making a difference.
However, while it is encouraging to see the public health laboratory at Kohima working full on — testing fish samples including those gathered from different districts — it still requires more equipment to ensure food safety for citizens.
The issue does not end with fish alone as the local market is perceived to have been swamped by unchecked chemically processed meat, adulterated powdered spices with artificial non edible colours, and even carbide ripened fruits, among others.
The state government needs to concentrate more on the issue. Food safety is a concern for all, whether rich or poor, young or old, educated or illiterate. The initial detection put to the task unscrupulous traders. The case is just a tip of the iceberg. Nonetheless, a good beginning goes a long way.
The bottom line is that Nagaland shall soon be striking off some universally revered delicacies from their palate unless the government takes the matter seriously and offer standardized, stringent laws to keep the menu.