Monday, May 20

Formalin-tainted seafood: It’s dept’s job – activist


KOTA KINABALU: Environmentalist Dr CY Vun has critcised the State Health Department Director Dr Christina Rundi over her recent statement which puts the onus on the people to provide proof of formaldehyde use on seafood to the health authorities.

“Unlike the public, namely the consumers, the Health Department is fully equipped with detection devices and also expertise in detecting the presence of formaldehyde in fishes being sold in the markets.

“As such, the recent statement by Dr Christina Rundi that consumers need to show her proof that fishes sold in our markets are formalin-tainted is a great disservice to the public,” he said yesterday.

Vun concurred with the recent reply to Dr Christina from Sabah Anglers Association president Datuk Wilfred Lingham that the onus lies with the Health Department and not with the consumers because the consumers do not have any device to certify that fishes sold in the markets were formalin-free or not.

According to Vun, formalin is a solution of formaldehyde used for the destruction of disease germs and as a food preservative.

He said scientifically, formaldehyde is the most notorious, environmental aldehyde and by far the most common, and it accounts for about half of the total aldehyde in polluted air, and is used to manufacture phenolic resins, as a tissue preservative, and in the processing of hides and textiles.

“Like most aldehyde, it is extremely irritating to the mucous membranes, particularly the nose and eyes.

“Studies with rats have implicated formaldehyde as a nasal carcinogen, although extrapolation to other species seems uncertain, and no direct available evidence is available for humans.

“Nevertheless, formaldehyde has been described as a probable human carcinogen,” said Vun, adding that social and political concerns that have accompanied the growth of environmental toxicology might be complementary to or even be part of the scientific approach.