While there are reports on the use of formalin in fruits and vegetables, the Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority (BAFRA) said that there is no possibility of contaminating fruits and vegetables by mixing formalin, a health hazardous chemical.
BAFRA official Kubir said, “There is no scope of using formalin in fruits like, mango and apple imported from other countries. Fruits like, mango and apple do not rot because of wax which is used on fruits as the fruit is imported from long distance.”
He said, “Most fruits and vegetables make their own natural waxy coating to help retain moisture. Washing removes the natural wax ,and therefore, wax is applied to some produce to replace the natural wax that is lost.”
Kubir said, “Waxing helps to retain moisture in fruits and vegetables during shipping and in the market, protect fruits and vegetables from bruising and prevent from damage and also from mold and disease. Wax turns white and leave residue on produce when they have been exposed to excessive heat or moisture but produce with white wax is still safe to eat.”
He said BAFRA conducted random formalin test on fruits and vegetables but so far the result was always negative. “Formalin test kid is very expensive and we should not waste our resources, but instead, we should pay attention to those areas where it is required like the use of pesticides in fruits and vegetables.”
“We are conducting frequent test on the use of pesticides in fruits and vegetables where it is required. In the past, we have detected the use of pesticides in vegetables like chilli, curliflower and bean.
Therefore, we have banned the import of such vegetables.” he said.
He also said, “We have detected use of pesticides in other vegetables but in acceptable level”.
Another official from BAFRA said, “Fruits like mandarin (orange) and mango exported to Bangladesh are also tested, but so far all the results were negative.
This shows that fruits exported to other countries and the fruits imported from foreign countries are free from formalin and safe for consumption.”
According to BAFRA’s Director General, so far only one formalin test on fruits like grapes, apple, banana tomato and mango imported from other countries was conducted in July in Thimphu. Use of pesticides in fruits and vegetables test is conducted once in a week.
Bhutan conducted formalin test on fruit and vegetables exported from Bhutan to Bangladesh because Bangladesh banned the use of formalin after police seized tonnes of fruits like mango and fish after detecting formalin in fish and mango.
BAFRA conduct’s formalin test during the apple and orange season.
The Director said, BAFRA is planning to conduct regular test on fruits as most people are worried about the use of formalin in fish and other products.