Formalin useless in fruits!

Shahed Shafiq
Published : 14:45, May 22, 2019 | Updated : 14:45, May 22, 2019

Formaldehyde, better known as formalin is a chemical that Bangladeshis are very familiar with given the amount of fruits and vegetables destroyed during raids and the rigorous cleaning process the fruits have to undergo to save oneself from the dangerous chemical. However, it turns out that since fruits and vegetables mainly contain fibre and very little protein, formalin is completely useless on them
The food authority in the country themselves admitted to it citing a research conducted by the United Nations and Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).
The Bangladesh Food Safety Authority (BFSA) recently published a statement saying that all fruits and vegetables naturally have a specific amount (anywhere between 3-60 miligram/kilo), of formalin which is not at all harmful for the health.
Agricultural Research Council Director Dr Mohammad Monirul Islam told Bangla Tribune that given formalin’s highly soluble and volatile nature, it plays no part in preserving fruits and vegetables.
“It won’t stay long if it’s mixed with fruits. Fruits and vegetables are mainly fibres not proteins. Hence there is no scope of mixing formalin in them,” he said.
“Besides fruits themselves have natural formalin which isn’t harmful for the health.”
Saying that a chemical ethopen is used to make fruits ripen faster he added, “that’s why we say not to eat mangoes before May 25.”
The research showed that the daily consumption of formaldehyde in Bangladeshi adults is significantly below the tolerant level.
The experts back in 2014 has tried to bring the matter to light but were ignored. Large amount i of fruits and vegetables were destroyed despite the fact that the machines and kits used during the tests did not give correct results. 
“The kits used in formalin tests are not accurate. Those kits would probably give a positive for formalin on a freshly picked fruit,” said Islam.
The equipments that the city corporations used for testing were invented by the Bangladesh Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (BCSIR).
The questions raised regarding the accuracy of the equipment was ignored until the city corporations wrote to BCSIR after which they went out of use.
BFSA Chairman Mahfuzul Hoque told Bangla Tribune that the only way to test for formalin is High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC).
“They are currently using detection kit instead of HPLC which is not at all enough,” he said.
Responding to queries about the massive amount of fruits and vegetables destroyed in the raids back in 2014, he said that “it was a mistake.”
“It has caused us a lot of damage. After questions were raised we sent 28 food items to the United Nations’ FAO to test them,” he said.
He added that the research showed no traces of formalin in the fruits in Bangladesh.
The High Court in 2014 gave orders to import proper formalin testing equipment but Bangladesh hasn’t been able to do so in five years.