AGARTALA, Feb 28 (IANS): Preservative formalin having an adverse impact on human body was found in 11 fish samples in Agartala markets, which forced the Tripura government to take “severe action”.
“Following the media reports, the state health department officials collected 40 fish samples from Agartala and formalin was found in 11 samples,” Tripura Health Minister Badal Choudhury said in the Tripura assembly on Tuesday.
Formalin, a poisonous and non-decomposing chemical agent, is used as an antiseptic, disinfectant and preservative in various items.
Replying to a calling attention notice, he told the assembly: “Officials have been asked to take severe legal action against the accused and wrongdoers.”
The calling attention notice was earlier jointly given by opposition Trinamool Congress lawmakers Ashish Saha and Pranjit Singh Roy.
The minister said of the 11 fish samples in which laboratory tests showed formalin was used, five samples were collected from two main fish markets of Agartala and six were collected from fish imported from Bangladesh.
Choudhury said a massive awareness campaign was also undertaken against the use of formalin in eatable items.
“Food Safety Officers are collecting samples randomly from the open market and testing them in laboratories. Under the Food Safety Security Act and Rules, 2011, if anyone is found guilty, the defaulter may face a penalty of Rs 1 lakh to Rs 10 lakh or imprisonment or both,” the Health Minister warned.
The Tripura government has taken steps to appoint Food Safety Officer in each sub-division to ensure proper vigilance against food adulteration.
District Sessions Judges are designated to hear such cases and dispose them at the earliest, he added.
An official of the industries and commerce department said on an average, 25,644 kg fish are being daily imported from Bangladesh and 26,180 kg from outside the state, including Andhra Pradesh, in Tripura.
“These fish being imported from Bangladesh and other Indian states are being sold in Tripura markets without any laboratory tests,” the official informed on condition of anonymity.