Formalin in Fish (Operation Sagar Rani) - Background Context
The Health Department of the state of Bihar has imposed a complete ban for half a month (15 days) in the city of Patna, on sales activity of the fishes from the states of Andhra Pradesh (AP) and West Bengal. This decision came after a number of fish samples were tested, and were found contaminated with Formalin, this ban is further extended and against any activity related to storage and transportation of the fish from two states West Bengal (WB), and Andhra Pradesh (AP) respectively.
Brief Information About Formalin
- Whenever 30% to 40% of the Formaldehyde (CH2O or HCHO) is combined with water, the resulting combination is called Formalin (Formaldehyde Gas in Water). It has the properties of a disinfectant and is used for the sterilization of medical instruments, pesticides, paint, manufacturing paper, and glue.
- Formalin in Colourless and TOXIC properties, it is soluble in water and acetone.
- It is used as a preservative for anatomical and biological samples or specimens.
- Whenever bare contact with Formalin, it causes irritation in the throat, eyes, stomach, and itching on the skin.
- Unfortunately, Formalin is carcinogenic in nature (cancer-causing properties) and causes serious harm to the liver and kidney on regular exposure.
- Moreover, it is a highly flammable gas, thus making it highly reactive to flames or heat.
Why is fish laced with formalin?
Fish is considered to be highly perishable and has lesser shelf life compared to other commodities. It has to be maintained at 05 degrees Celsius or else it starts to degrade.
However, during transportation, most of the fish gets spoiled and is no longer suitable for consumption. Recently discovered that fishermen and fish traders started to use Formalin and Ammonia as s preservatives to increase fish shelf life. However, without proper knowledge and experience, the use of formalin is now contaminating the fish and food stores.
This practice came into existence due to the geographical distance between the place of fish catch and the marketplace has increased and demand in other parts of India with greater price for fish, forcing sellers to use toxic chemicals as preservatives.
Operation Sagar Rani
Very recently last year, in June 2018 the Food Safety Department, State of Kerala confiscated or seized around 10,000 kilograms (kg) of contaminated fish completely preserved in Formalin at Kollam district (border check post).
This catch comprises 7000 kilograms (kg) of Prawn and 3000 kilograms (kg) of other well-known fish species that are in regular demand in the market. This was in pursuance of Operation Sagar Rani officially launched by the state.