DOH to probe alleged use of formalin in fish, meat products

MANILAThe Department of Health (DOH) will check on the alleged widespread use of formalin in wet markets nationwide to keep fish and other meat products fresh, a health official said.

In a radio interview on Wednesday, Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo said the department has instructed agents to verify reports regarding the use of formalin on frozen fish, meat products, fruits and vegetables.

Kapag ganyan po na may naririnig na reports si Secretary (Francisco) Duque, dine-direct nya po ang FDA (Food and Drug Administration) to check. Pero hinihiling din po namin sa public na pwede naman din po sila online sa DOH or FDA magreklamo kung may alam na po sila na brand o produkto, para maka-concentrate po ang aming grupo sa investigation (In case there are such reports, Secretary Duque immediately directs the FDA to check. But we're requesting the public to submit their concerns online to DOH or FDA if they already know which brand or product, so we can concentrate on the investigation), he said.

Earlier, fisherfolk group Pamalakaya national chairperson Fernando Hicap warned the public about frozen galunggong or round scads from China, which are treated with formalin to keep them fresh. Hicap added these fish cost lower but can be harmful to those who consume them.

While DOH has yet to investigate the report, Domingo said there are things consumers can do to reduce the amount of formalin that could have been applied on certain food items.

Sa isda, sa karne ang susi ay washing. Ibabad ang isda sa cold water for an hour, o isang oras sa tubig na may asin kasi lalabas ang fluidsgaling sa isda. It will dehydrate the fish meat. Pero kasi hindi matatanggal completely, mababawasan lang po, going to a very low amount (In fish, in meat the key is washing. Soak the fish in cold water for an hour, or in saline solution for one hour so the fluids would ooze out of the fish. It will dehydrate the fish meat but it will not remove the formalin completely. It will only be reduced, going to a very low amount), he said.

Fruits and vegetables that could have been treated with formalin must be washed in a bowl of water with vinegar or baking soda. Domingo advised people to choose slightly damaged fruits and vegetables over the good-looking ones as their defects could signify the absence of chemicals or pesticides.

Stressing that ingestion of formalin could cause health problems, Domingo urged the public to be vigilant and help the DOH track vendors who use formalin to keep their produce fresh.

Hindi ko pa sigurado sa Department of Agriculture kung may parusa pero I would like to think na may sanctions kahit yung permit lang poto operate the stall o magbenta kasi harmful po ito. Bawal po magbenta ng anything harmful (I'm not sure if the Department of Agriculture imposes a penalty but I would like to think that there are sanctions, at least with the permit to operate the stall or sell because this is harmful. It is prohibited to sell anything harmful), he said. (PNA)

Source: Philippine News Agency

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