10-day ban on fish import in Assam after formalin found in samples

The Assam government has banned import of fish from outside the state for the next 10 days after fish samples from the Guwahati market were found with formalin.

“We have announced that for the next 10 days, no fish from outside will be allowed to come here. This action is taken after formalin was found in the sample during a test in the lab. It’s very dangerous. After 10 days we will let them bring fish but they have to pass the test. If we find use of the chemical again, strict action will be taken which might go up to seven years’ of imprisonment against the individuals who are found to be at guilt as per law,” said minister of state for health and family welfare Pijush Hazarika on July 10.

Hazarika said that criminal cases will be lodged against the traders.

The test which was conducted in the state public health laboratory said that ‘the sample tested positive for preservation (formalin) and hence is not suitable for use for human consumption being unsafe according to Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.

Formalin is usually applied on fish at the time of transportation from the source as a means to preserve it. Formalin is a clear aqueous solution of formaldehyde and methanol. It is particularly used as a disinfectant and preservative in laboratories.

The fish samples were collected from Betkuchi wholesale markets on June 29.

“We will continue to conduct sudden tests not just in Guwahati but in other places as well,” said the minister.

The state health department is also procuring kits to test such bad quality fishes on the spot which will arrive within the next week. “This will make the job much easier for food inspectors conducting the drive,” said an official.

Earlier, several states including the neighbouring Nagaland have put a ban on the sale of fish from outside.

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