DHAKA, April 4 (BSS) - The government will impart training to some 43,000 people including officials and fish-traders to raise awareness against the use of formalin, a deadly chemical widely used by fish traders across the country for preserving fishes.
Officials in the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock (MoFL) said fishes are favourite dishes of all the sections of people in the country but five percent of the total consumable fishes are usually treated with fomalin and sold in the fish market.
A section of unscrupulous traders are using the harmful chemical for preserving fish, which is likely to cause serious health hazards, both for the consumers and the fish traders as well.
Under the prevailing situation, some 37,000 fishermen, fish traders and fish wholesalers, nearly 5,000 members from the local market management committees and another 1,000 fishery officials and employees across the country will receive training on formalin use under a project, said the official sources.
The training programmes will be conducted at 50 fish markets and fish depots in seven divisional cities and 250 fish markets and fish depots in all the upazilas across the country.
Formalin detection in fishes, harmful affects of formalin, safe fish preservation process and awareness building against the use of formalin will dominate the topics in the training programme, said the officials.
Besides, the government will conduct 3,000 mobile courts, 1,000 awareness meetings and some 66 workshops in 64 districts across the country to Control the use of formalin in Fish Preservation and launch Mass Awareness Campaign under a three- year project. The project will end in June, 2014, they said.
Project Director Dr GM Shamsul Kabir said, "The project has been taken for the first time in the country with an estimated cost of Taka 7.70 crore." He said the project will help prevent use of formalin in fishes through creating awareness among the people.
Under the project, the government will procure 80 boxes of formalin detection kit from the USA for distribution among the district fisheries officials next month, said the official.
The kit with digital sensor system will help to detect the formalin presence in fishes instantly on the spot at the fish markets, the official added.
Terming the formalin as a 'silent killer', Principle Scientific Officer (PSO) of the Institute of Food Science and Technology under Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (BCSIR) Dr Umme Ara said continuous use of formalin that contains thirty-seven percent formaldehyde enters the human body through fish may cause uncontrolled cell growth or cancer in any part of the body like stomach, lung and respiratory system.
She said, unfortunately general consumers are not aware of the harmful affect of the chemical in human body.
In a drive against the impure (contaminated)) foods, a mobile court seized 127 maunds of formalin-treated fishes from the fish traders at the city's Swarighat in 2006. Formalin- treated fishes like Rui, Katla, Mrigel, small shrimp, Kachki and Bele are commonly available in the city market.