Meghalaya on Monday banned the import and sale of fish from outside the state for 15 days after some samples of imported fish tested positive for formalin.
The state government has issued a notification prohibiting the storage, distribution, and sale of fresh fish from outside the state. It has warned that anyone violating the order will be fined Rs 10 lakh and jailed for up to seven years under the Food Safety & Standards Act, 2006, the Hindustan Times reported. The state joins Goa, Kerala, Assam, Manipur and Nagaland in banning the import of fish.
According to an analysis report sent to the government, two out of the 19 samples tested for formalin returned a positive result. Food Safety Deputy Commissioner SN Sangma told PTI that the samples were tested at the Assam-based Public Health Laboratory. The two samples were taken from Jowai town of West Jaintia Hills district and Nongpoh, the headquarters of Ri-Bhoi district.
Sangma said results of another seven samples sent to the lab earlier this month are awaited.
On Monday, a team led by E Pyngrope, the district’s Food and Safety Officer, conducted surprise checks at a fish market in Nongpoh, reported The Shillong Times. Tests conducted on samples of imported fish, mostly rohu and pomfret, found they contained formalin. The fishmongers said they had got the fish from suppliers in Shillong, who had imported them from Andhra Pradesh. They were asked to bury the fish that tested positive for formalin.
Formalin is a preservative derived from formaldehyde. It can cause nausea, coughing and a burning sensation in the eyes, nose and throat in the short term, and is found to cause cancer if consumed over a long period of time. It is used chiefly as a preservative for biological specimens, for instance in laboratories. Formalin is not a part of the government-approved list of permitted preservatives for food.