Export Inspection Council (EIC), the competent authority for certification of seafood for export registered with the Government of India, will now monitor the quality of fish that is imported to Goa. EIC will also test the quality of milk, fruits and vegetables that are imported in the State.
EIC, along with Food Safety and Standard Authority of India (FSSAI), Marine Products Export Development Authority (MPEDA) and Quality Council of India (QCI) will establish a protocol along with scientific justification for sampling and testing to detect the presence of formaldehyde (formalin) in fish to build confidence amongst consumers.
Health Minister Vishwajit Rane said that EIC will monitor the presence of formaldehyde in fish and report to the State government for further necessary action. “EIC is a recognised export certification body as far as fish export from the country is concerned,” he said. Rane said that the QCI has also agreed, subject to requirement by the Government of Goa, to launch a mobile food testing lab in the State with facility to test formaldehyde in fish.
EIC will set up a State-of-the-art facility in Goa, which will be the central point for entire Goa and Konkan region. Rane said that the laboratory set up in Goa will be for Goa and Konkan region. “State will make available the place while the entire cost of the lab that is Rs 15 crore will be taken care by Government of India,” he said.
The decision was taken during a meeting with Union Commerce and Industries Minister Suresh Prabhu held on Thursday to discuss the issue regarding the presence of formaldehyde in fish in Goa.
“EIC under administrative control of Ministry of Commerce, is the competent authority for certification of seafood for exports to different countries and it shall take steps for establishing a state of the art laboratory with necessary equipment to test formaldehyde in fish as per international standard,” the minutes of the meeting state.
It has said that the Goa government has agreed to provide necessary support, including built up space and other logistics to establish the laboratory quickly. EIC along with MPEDA will depute a team to Goa to have market survey and collect baseline information.
Rane said the EIC team will visit the State over the weekend. “We have assured them that whatever protocol they set, we will follow them as far as fish import is concerned. We have to ensure that people’s confidence is restored,” he said, adding that EIC will also look into milk, fruits and vegetables.
Earlier this week, Town and Country Planning (TCP) Minister Vijai Sardesai had called for a high-level meeting with Rane, Fisheries Minister Vinod Palyekar and government officials to discuss measures to
restore people’s confidence in fish being sold in the market. It was decided to rope in an international standard agency to test quality of fish that is been consumed. This is an outcome of that meeting.