BFAR: No formalin found in galunggong market samples

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 24) The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) assured the public that galunggong or round scad products sold in wet markets are safe for consumption.

This comes after reports that some of the fish products were allegedly tainted with the toxic chemical formalin. 

In a press statement released Friday, BFAR said it conducted tests on various galunggong samples collected from Balintawak Market, Cubao's Farmer's Market, and the Navotas Fish Port. 

The agency said no formalin was detected in any sample during the tests conducted on Wednesday. 

The bureau, however, noted that laboratory analysis revealed low levels of formaldehyde in the galunggong products.

"Formaldehyde were detected. Formaldehyde is a chemical compound which naturally develops when the fish dies," the statement read. 

BFAR said authorities are closely monitoring all fish commodities— both locally sourced and imported— which are being sold in wet markets. 

"The public is assured that in collaboration with other concerned government agencies, the DA-BFAR will continue to remain vigilant in ensuring that all fish commodities that are sold in the markets, either locally sourced or imported, are safe and free from any harmful substances," the statement added. 

The agency on Wednesday announced it will be allowing galunggong importation starting September, in order to address the low production supply of the fish product. 

The low supply prompted market vendors to increase prices, as the staple viand now costs P140 to P160 per kilogram. 

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque backed the Department of Agriculture's importation order, saying this will help in decreasing the prices of goods. 

Consumer groups and fisherfolk, however, have criticized the move. They urged the government to focus on strengthening local production, instead of relying on importation and exportation.