After reports of fish samples in laboratory test in Assam were found positive with presence of formalin, the Meghalaya Government has banned the import of fish from outside the State for 15 days, even as test on other perishables items like fruits and vegetable and meat products would be carried out to detect the presence of harmful preservatives.
The 15-day ban period was effective from Monday, the day when the notification was issued.
Earlier, the Meghalaya Government had decided not to ban the import of fish from other States including Andhra Pradesh, while waiting for test reports on samples which were sent for test to a laboratory in Assam.
Moreover, the State Government also procured spot testing kits known as “formalin (formaldehyde) detection kits” and carried out spot tests in markets on sample of fish brought from outside the State.
The ban by the State Government came after receiving test reports from the laboratory in Assam which showed positive, the presence of formalin in the fish samples.
Similarly, spot testing of fish samples were also carried out in main markets in different districts of the State.
According to sources, a spot test of fish samples conducted at Nongpoh in Ri-Bhoi district on Monday also showed positive the presence of formalin.
A notification issued by the Commissioner of Food Safety, PW Ingty said, “Out of 19 samples tested and reports received, two samples have tested positive for formalin as per the analysis report of the food analyst to the government dated July 20, which is highly toxic and injurious to health.”
The notification also stated that in pursuance of the regulation 3.1.4 of the Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards & Food Additives) Regulations, 2011, indicates the preservatives permitted to be used in select articles of food, whereas formalin is not included in the said list of permitted preservation.
“Distribution, storage and sale of fresh fish treated with formalin or other unpermitted preservatives render the articles unsafe under section 3(1)(zz)(v) of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006,” the notification stated.
In exercise of the powers conferred under clause (a) of sub-section (2) of Section 30 of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006, the notification said that storage, distribution or sale of fresh fish or crustaceans brought from outside the State is prohibited for a period of 15 days in the interest of public health or till corrective measures are taken with effect from the date of issue of the notification.
The Government warned that non-compliance to the notification will attract imprisonment up to seven years and fine up to Rs 10 lakh as provided under section 59 (iv) of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006.
Meanwhile sources informed on Monday that the state government has also instructed that testing on samples of other meat products, fruits and vegetables should be also conducted to verify and detect whether harmful preservatives have been also laced with the food items apart from fish.