The Food Safety Department of Assam recently prohibited the sale of fish brought from outside the State after detecting inappropriate use of preservatives like formalin, which is used to preserve dead bodies. With the 10-day blanket ban on selling fish brought from outside the State, fish markets across districts in Assam resorted to the selling of locally available fish.
Officials from the State Public Health Laboratory said, ‘We are now conducting centralized tests for the fish samples daily. The fishes are brought from almost all the districts to be tested for formalin. We have also been supplied with CIF Test kits by the Food Safety Standards Authority to conduct on-spot tests at the fish markets. There is a positive change, as the formalin usage has totally decreased.’
Food Safety officials stated, ‘The department is also planning to ban the loose sale of formalin in the market and allow it to be sold only to laboratories and educational institutions.’
However, the Fishery Department reveals that the fish brought from outside of Assam is only 8% and that 92% of the fish sold in Assam is made up of locally available varieties. The ban might reduce health risks among the people of Assam, but it won’t cause much harm to the fish vendors and the businesses involved in the fishery sector of the State.
Some fish vendors in Guwahati said, ‘We have stopped selling fish brought from outside the State. All the vendors have started selling locally available fishes and it is not much affecting our business because even earlier the sale of fish from outside states was quite less.’
Officials from the Food Safety Department revealed that the ban is an attempt to fill the 8% gap with locally available fish and to make the State self-sufficient with regards to fisheries.