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Formalin-laced fish create scare across India: From detection to ban, a timeline

Formalin is a toxic chemical which is used to preserve bodies and prevent its decay in mortuaries. It is derived from formaldehyde, a potential cancer-inducing chemical.

Something fishy on the table A fisherman gestures as he holds a fish (surmai) on Wednesday in Mahim. (Express Photo by Karma Sonam Bhutia)

Goa announced a 15-day ban on entry of fish from other states following the seizure of several consignments contaminated with formalin, a toxic chemical used to preserve bodies. Formalin-laced fish were detected in Andhra Pradesh, Assam, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Northeast markets. Following the reports of seizure of huge quantity of fish products with traces of formalin from Nagaland and Kerala, other states have also begun their own investigation to determine the possibility of the substance in fish products.

Formalin is a toxic chemical which is used to preserve bodies and prevent its decay in mortuaries. It is derived from formaldehyde, a potential cancer-inducing chemical.

June 22

The Nagaland government prohibited storage, distribution, and sale of fresh fish products treated with formalin or other forms of preservatives in the state for a period of three months or until corrective measures were taken.

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June 26

Kerala: A total of 21,600 kg of fish laced with formalin had been seized in Kerala after the launch of ‘Operation Sagar Rani’. The Operation Sagar Rani is a drive to ensure safety and hygiene at fish handling and distribution centres, PTI reported.

Tamil Nadu: The state food safety department officials intercepted a cargo of chemical-laced fish from Tuticorin in neighbouring Tamil Nadu, at the check post.

June 30

Manipur banned the sale of imported ice-packed fish after detection of toxic formalin in Nagaland and Kerala. The Manipur fishery department collected fish samples from different outlets across the state and found traces of formalin.

July 10
Assam minister for Health and Family Welfare, Pijush Hazarika told PTI that samples of fish imported from other states collected on June 29, after visiting various fish markets in Guwahati, tested to have traces of formalin. Hence, the Assam government banned the import and sale of fish from other states for a period of 10 days.

July 12


The Food and Drug Administration raided wholesale fish markets in Margao in South Goa and Panaji in North Goa and reportedly detected formalin in fish on spot analysis.

July 13

Odisha fisheries department found traces of ‘formalin’ chemical in fish available in the city’s market, officials told PTI. The traces of the chemical was found in a fish sample collected from a market in Bhubaneshwar, said Fisheries and Animal Resources Development Secretary Vishal Gagan.

July 14

Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar tweeted that he was personally monitoring the issue of the presence of formalin in fish.

July 18


After successive recoveries of consignments with formalin-laced fish, the Goa government Wednesday banned fish imports from other states till July-end as a precautionary measure. Following the move, the state is likely to face a shortage of fish over the fortnight given that the annual ban on fishing activities along the sea coast is also in place as of now. Non-mechanised trawlers are, however, exempted from the annual ban that comes into effect in the breeding season of fish.

First published on: 19-07-2018 at 11:03:05 am
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