Health Sector – UHC, National Health Policy, Family Planning, Health Insurance, etc.

Fish from Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal banned in Patna


Mains Paper 2: Governance | Issues relating to development & management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Formalin

Mains level: Food Safety


  • Bihar has imposed a blanket ban for 15 days on sale of fish from Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal in capital Patna after samples were found to be contaminated with formalin.

Formalin traces found

  1. Fishes from these states were contaminated with formalin—a cancer causing chemical, used to preserve the fish.
  2. Apart from formalin, traces of other heavy metals like lead, chrorium and mercury was also found to be more than normal levels in the samples.

What is formalin?

  1. Formalin is derived from formaldehyde which is a known cancer-causing agent. It is used to preserve bodies in mortuaries.
  2. It can also increase shelf life of fresh food.
  3. While fromalin can cause nausea, coughing and burning sensation in eyes, nose and throat in the short term, it can cause cancer if consumed over a long period of time.

Why is fish laced with formalin?

  1. Fish is a highly perishable commodity.
  2. If it isn’t maintained at the proper temperature of 5 degree Celsius, it gets spoilt.
  3. To avoid that and increase its shelf life, the sellers use chemicals such as formalin and ammonia.
  4. If the point of sale is far from the place of catch, formalin is used as a preservative.
  5. Meanwhile, ammonia is mixed with the water that is frozen to keep fish fresh.

About the ban

  1. The ban includes storage and transportation of fish from Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal.
  2. Anybody found violating the ban would face a prison term up to seven years and a fine of Rs 10 lakh.
  3. With samples collected from Patna testing positive, the government has now decided to collect fish samples from different districts and test them for the same.
  4. If found positive, the ban would be extended over the entire state.
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