Union Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Released “CIFTest -Rapid Detection Kits”developed by ICAR-CIFT

Shri Radha Mohan Singh, Union Minister  of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, released “Rapid Detection Kits (CIFtest) to detect adulteration of Formaldehyde and Ammonia in fresh fish” developed by ICAR-Central Institute of Fisheries Technology, Cochin here today. Shri Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, Union Minister of State for Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Dr. J. K. Jena Deputy Director General (Fisheries Science) ICAR and Dr. C.N. Ravishankar, Director, ICAR-CIFT, Cochin were also graced the occasion.
Fish is a highly nutritious food commodity with many health benefits.  It is highly relished by the consumers and enjoys high demand throughout the country. Because of highly perishable nature of fish, lack of facilities like cold chain and non availability of good quality ice, the fish is not reaching the consumers in prime condition. To overcome these exigencies and due to high cost of fish, the traders are resorting to use of illegal chemicals to enhance the storage period.
Of late, there has been several reports that fresh fish is being sold after adulterating with chemicals like formaldehyde, ammonia etc. According to FSSAI regulations, the fresh fish and shellfish should be preserved only by means of ice.  Use of substances other than ice to extend the keeping quality is a fraudulent practice. 
Formaldehyde and ammonia are generated in very low levels in most living beings through normal metabolic activities. But ingestion of these chemicals in continuously through food can cause minor to serious health problems such as stomach pain, vomiting, comma and even death.  Formaldehyde is a potential cancer inducing chemical, which is a major health concern. Although ammonia is not so far reported to have carcinogenic effect, continuous ingestion of ammonia can lead to many health issues including injuries to mucous membrane of mouth, throat, esophagus and stomach.  Ammonia readily dissolves in water and forms ammonium hydroxide, an alkaline solution. Ingestion of ammonium hydroxide can also result in corrosive damage to mouth, throat and stomach. The surreptitious use of undesirable substances in fresh fish can only be avoided by ensuring proper use of cold chain for fish and fish products during handling and processing, storage, transportation and display for sale.

ICAR-CIFT, Kochi, has developed two rapid detection kits for checking adulteration of fresh fish with formaldehyde and ammonia.  Special emphasis was given to make this kit as non-destructive, simple, cost effective and consumer friendly method, to suit its use in domestic markets, food inspectors, regulators and general public.  The kits consists of simple paper strips, reagent solution and standard chart for comparing results.

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