* Ban follows after fish samples found with formalin
GUWAHATI, July 10: Dispur on Tuesday banned procurement of frozen fish (commonly known as salani fish) from outside Assam and any sale of the same in markets for the next ten days.
The ban has been imposed after the Public Health Laboratory, Assam confirmed use of formalin in some samples of such fish collected by officials of the Commissionerate of Food Safety from Pamohi wholesale market in the city on June 29.
A solution of 35 to 40 per cent of water in formaldehyde or methanal is called formalin. Formalin is a strong disinfectant and tissue hardener and it is used for preserving biological and anatomical specimens. It is also used as an antiseptic in sterilizing surgical instruments. Use of such chemicals to keep fish fresh for a longer period causes serious health hazards for fish-eating population.
“After 10 days, we will again conduct drives, and if formalin is still found, we will punish them under the provisions of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006. The original sellers will be contacted through the cash memos. Also, we will request the local sellers not to increase fish prices during this period,” said an official of the Food Safety Department.
The government is, however, reluctant to stop procurement of fish for a long time as a large number of people might be affected by such a step. The official, however, said if any fish seller is found using formalin for preservation of fish in future will be arrested and sent to jail for a minimum period of two years and maximum of seven years. The accused will also have to pay fine to the tune of Rs 10 lakh.