Govt: Will not ban import of fish unless postive case of formalin use is found

SHILLONG, Jul 18: The state government has decided not to ban the import of fish from other states including local fish until and unless they come across any positive case of the use of formalin in the fish.

This was informed by Health Minister AL Hek after the joint meeting held between the Health department, Fisheries department and representatives from the Khasi Jaintia Whole Seller and retailer Association.

“Out of 26 samples we have sent for testing at the State Public Health Laboratory, Assam-Guwahati, 13 test reports have come back and all of them are negative and formalin free and the remaining 13 test reports are on their way. Until we detect a single positive case of the use of formalin in the fish we are not going to ban the import of fish from other states,” Hek said.

He however said that the testing kit (Formaldehyde detection kit) has already arrive the state and from tomorrow itself the fisheries department jointly with the health department are going to do the testing of the fish in all the markets right from the stock that is coming from Andra Pradesh and other states including the local fishes.

“We are not waiting for the other 13 test reports to come back but we are going to start testing the fish here in the state by ourselves through the kit we have received, from tomorrow,” he said.

Stating the government will also need the cooperation of the fish suppliers, Hek said, “The moment we detect a single positive case of the use of formalin in the fish imported here we will ban the fish in the state for the safety and security of the people of the state.”

The state Health Minister also urfed the public not to spread rumors and fake news in social media of the use of formalin in fish until proven.

When asked, Minister incharge Fisheries department Comingone Ymbon said that the import of fish from outside the states including Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Orissa, West Bengalwhich is 21,000 metric ton annually.

“We are going to collect samples and test the fish coming from other states right from the source, from the truck itself so that we can also detect whether the use of formalin are done outside our in the state itself,” he added.

President of the Khasi Jaintia Fish Whole Seller and Retailer Association, M Wankhar said that the same kit has been display in the Assam market and from Monday onwards the Assam market will re-open.

“Had they really found out that fish coming in Assam is contaminated they would have extended the ban for several days but the temporary ban in Assam was done just to get the report,” he said adding that it might also be that somebody is playing foul as far as the use of formalin in fish is concern.

Wankhar informed that there are several companies supplying fish to Assam, West Bengal compare to the few companies supplying fish to Meghalaya but there is not a single case of the use of formalin.

Wankhar said that it takes five days for the imported fish to reach Shillong and the method for packing the fish is scientific and safe.

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