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
- Fishes from these states were contaminated with formalin—a cancer causing chemical, used to preserve the fish.
- 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?
- Formalin is derived from formaldehyde which is a known cancer-causing agent. It is used to preserve bodies in mortuaries.
- It can also increase shelf life of fresh food.
- 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?
- Fish is a highly perishable commodity.
- If it isn’t maintained at the proper temperature of 5 degree Celsius, it gets spoilt.
- To avoid that and increase its shelf life, the sellers use chemicals such as formalin and ammonia.
- If the point of sale is far from the place of catch, formalin is used as a preservative.
- Meanwhile, ammonia is mixed with the water that is frozen to keep fish fresh.
About the ban
- The ban includes storage and transportation of fish from Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal.
- Anybody found violating the ban would face a prison term up to seven years and a fine of Rs 10 lakh.
- 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.
- If found positive, the ban would be extended over the entire state.