To protect public health, the government of Meghalaya has imposed a 15-day ban on the import and sale of fish from outside the state. The decision comes after laboratory tests revealed that 30 out of 40 fish samples contained unpermitted preservative formalin. Formalin is highly toxic and poses serious health risks.
The ban, announced by the Commissioner of Food Safety, RM Kurbah, will remain in effect until appropriate corrective measures are implemented or 15 days from the notification date. To deter non-compliance, Section 59 (iv) of the Food Safety & Standards Act, 2006, stipulates severe penalties, including imprisonment of up to 7 years and a fine of up to Rs 10 lakh.
Formalin is not included in the list of permitted preservatives under the Food Safety and Standards (Food Products Standards & Food Additives) Regulations, 2011. Consequently, the distribution, storage, and sale of fresh fish treated with formalin or other unpermitted preservatives are deemed “unsafe” under Section 3(1)(zz)(v) of the Food Safety & Standard Act, 2006.