Amidst chemical pesticides in fruits and vegetables and hormones injected into chicken, fish seemed to be the most safe and easily affordable option. However, as per reports by our sources, vendors and fishermen have been sprinkling chemicals along with ice on fish before it reaches the market to keep it fresh.
According to sources, the powder earlier thought to have been salt, is actually sodium benzoate. Sodium benzoate is a preservative that is usually found in processed foods and shouldn’t be used for fresh fish.
Post news of chemical preservatives being used by fish vendors doing the rounds, the enforcement wing of the Food Safety Department have been conducting raids and inspecting samples of fish that comes into Kerala from other states. According to Dr. Ashok Kumar, principle scientist at the CIFT (Central Institute of Fisheries Technology), Kochi office, “Only ice should be used to keep the fish fresh, not even salt is allowed. Sodium benzoate is a class two permitted preservative that is usually found in jams, squashes etc. Fresh food like fish, fruits and vegetables should be sold as it is to the customer. The problem here is, that the customer isn’t aware, that the fish is being chemically preserved neither do they know how to check for presence of chemicals in the fish. If someone is a frequent fish-eater, they actually end up consuming this chemical in a large quantity which can cause allergies and other implications on health,” says Dr. Ashok Kumar.