Panaji, Goans have stopped eating their regular meals and have switched from fish to burgers, KFC or Shawarma due to an ongoing formalin scare, Deputy Speaker and ruling BJP MLA Michael Lobo said on Tuesday.
Lobo has demanded partial relaxation of the six-month ban on import of fish by traders who do not comply with new Food and Drugs and Administration norms.
He says the ongoing controversy over the use of formalin, a carcinogenic chemical used to preserve cadavers, to preserve fish imported into Goa from neighbouring states, was unnecessarily fuelled by the social media.
“Because there is no fish, people have stopped taking regular meals. Everyone here is eating burgers, KFC (Kentucky Fried Chicken), or shawarma (a meat wrap),” Lobo said at a press conference.
The controversy involving use of formalin in fish erupted in July this year, after a state health ministry official found traces of the chemical in fish being sold in Goa during a raid.
The BJP-led coalition government has been on the back foot ever since the revelation, after several of its ministers were accused of allegedly protecting fish traders who were allegedly importing formalin-laced fish into Goa from Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.
Prices of a staple kingfish, which normally costs Rs 500 per kg had shot up to Rs 900 per kg on the first day of the fish import ban itself.
Lobo also said, that that the formalin scare was only a case of hype and frenzy due to excessive exposure on social media.
“There is no fish in the market today. Fresh fish should be allowed to be imported. Goans should not be affected. The Goans menu has fish curry and rice everyday,” he said, adding that “people’s minds have been corrupted by social media.