MOPH warns consumers to take notice of food color and smell to avoid formaldehyde


BANGKOK, 26 February 2014  People should take notice of the color and smell of produce and meat to prevent consuming products contaminated with formaldehyde, the Department of Health asserted after it found concentrated formaldehyde contamination in beef. 

Health Department Director-General Phonthep Siriwanarangsan revealed that the finding was the result of the Public Health office in Phitsanulok’s random inspection of outlets that sell beef products. The use of formaldehyde in food, which keeps the product looking fresh, has been increasingly observed although it was illegal; the penalty was a maximum of 2 years jail term or no more than 20,000 baht in fines, according to the Director-General.

People should observe whether the color or smell of meat is abnormal. The meat should also be treated with at least 70 degrees Celsius of heat before consumption, in order to allow the chemical to evaporate. As for fruit and vegetables, consumers should wash them either with salt water, vinegar or baking soda.

Those exposed to a high dose of formaldehyde will experience severe headaches, increased heart rate, chest pain, dry mouth and throat, nausea, and Diarrhea. If taken in by breathing, formaldehyde can destroy the respiratory tract, cause inflammation of the lungs and pulmonary edema; such consequences may prove fatal. Intake of even smaller quantities of formaldehyde contributes to cancer.