Professor Kwabena Frimpong-Boateng, Minister of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation has asked traders to stop using formalin to preserve food items since it was dangerous to human health.
He said formalin was being used particularly to preserve “koobi,” dried tilapia, and that was a recipe to cause cancer in people.
According to him, formalin, which is a chemical used to stop dead bodies from rotting, is also being used by traders to preserve the fish; thus making it stiff, have a rubbery feel, clear eyes, red gills, and take away its odour as well as drive away flies.
Formalin is a colourless strong-smelling chemical substance usually used in industry of textiles, plastics, papers, paint, construction, and well known to preserve human corpse.
It is derived from formaldehyde gas dissolved in water, post on the site of the BIMC Hospital Nusa Dua, the first hospital in Indonesia with accreditation from Australian Council on Healthcare Standard International (ACHSI), has explained.
Exposure from its gas or vapour could cause irritation to the eyes, nose and respiratory tract, causing sneezing, sore throat, larynx constriction, bronchitis and pneumonia.
Multiple exposures can lead to asthma. It can also affect the skin, causing dermatitis or allergic reaction.
Speaking to journalists during a working visit to the Food Research Institute (FRI) and the Industrial Research Institute (IRR) of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) on Friday, Prof Frimpong-Boateng said “hitherto, opening the gills of koobi exposed salt placed there. Koobi was a little softer and when you put it somewhere flies will be attracted to it. These days you put koobi there and even flies will not go there.”
“So we want the few people who are destroying that industry to stop. Don’t preserve koobi with formalin, it is dangerous, it can cause cancer and it is dangerous everywhere, he said.
“Tell the traders to stop using formalin but instead use salt to preserve koobi”, Prof Frimpong-Boateng said.
The visits was part of his familiarisation tour to various research institutions under CSIR who play strategic role in developing scientific research that would feed industry and propel economic growth.
Prof Frimpong-Boateng together with Dr Victor Agyeman, Director-General of CSIR interacted with the staff of the two institutes and urged them to work hard and come out with scientific research programmes that would help boost industry, agriculture and education.
The Minister assured the staff of government’s commitment to resource the research centres with funds as it prepared to increase research fund from 0.2 per cent to 2.5 per cent.
He also commended staff at the Food Research Institute for the various products they had come up with but urged them to work to link up with industry to take up the innovation and sell them.
He however expressed regret at the level of deterioration at the Institute of Industrial Research despite the fact that there were scientists ready to work but were faced with obsolete equipment and tools.
“I think we as a people have failed the CSIR, which was created to play a critical role in building the economy “the Minister noted.