Food Safety Commissioner to act against those who use formalin in fish

Shillong June 12: Commissioner of Food Safety RM Kurbah has assured to  take action against those who adulterate fish with formalin.

The ban against imported fish is continuing due to the formalin content.


“There is a very strong law as food safety standards have strictly banned the use of formalin in food products and a very strong sentence can be given at the end of the investigation. For that, what you say is true and whoever has done this will be taken into task in due process of the law,” Kurbah said.

The government had banned the sale of imported fish for a period of 15 days from June 8, after 30 out of 42 samples of fish were tested positive for formalin.

She said once the FIR is registered, due course of law will follow and the Court will decide on the sentence.

According to Kurbah, who is also the East Khasi Hills Deputy Commissioner, the issue of inquiry into the matter is a policy decision by the government.

“We are the enforcement agency of the government and whatever policy has to be made will be made by the government but we will be submitting our report,” she said.

The DC also said she cannot disclose the details of the suppliers and the states they belong to since they will submit the report to the government.

She asserted that whatever fish that are imported from outside the state will be tested before being allowed to be sold in the local market.

“Whatever fishes come to the market, we will be doing the testing. We are allowing local fishes to be sold but testing is an ongoing process for us,” Kurbah said.

She added that the department will test all rohu fish which are mostly coming from Andhra Pradesh.

The food safety officer said there has been no violation of the ban imposed by the government on the sale of fish. “I thank the fish sellers for showing support although we know it is affecting their livelihood”, she said.

The official admitted that there is a shortage of food safety officers (FSOs).

“We have five FSOs. We are still short of three more officers. Since the exams are taking sometime, we will have to appoint them on contractual basis and a proposal has been sent to the government.”

Food Analyst and Biologist Wandamika Lyngdoh highlighted the danger of formalin present in the food products.

“The Food Safety Standards Regulation 2011 clearly states that the presence of formalin in any food product specially fish is not permitted. It is also stated as a human carcinogenic. It also stated that consumption of 30 ml or 37% of formalin at one go can even cause death in a person. I am not saying that they are keeping that amount in a fish but consumption of fish on a daily basis can lead to accumulation of formalin in your body which might lead to serious diseases,” she added.

According to her, tests will be conducted on samples of more than 100 fish on a phase-wise manner.

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