If Formalin is not permitted for use in foods, how is it possible find it in within permissible limits?



Formalin (formaldehyde in water) is a common adulterant in fish. Traders and suppliers use it to extend the storage life of fresh or chilled fish and artificially improve the sensory attributes. The two preceding sentences have been extracted from the guidance note uploaded by the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) on their website. The note, uploaded on July 16 following the nation-wide debate on fish and formalin, further states that ‘consumption of fish adulterated with formalin can cause health conditions such as abdominal discomfort, vomiting, renal injury, etc.’ And it goes still further to say, ‘formaldehyde is not permitted for use in foods as per Food Safety and Standards Regulations 2011’.  

This is what the Union government agency on food safety has to say about formalin in fish, and that being so, Goa cannot take the issue of formalin being used to preserve the fish imported from other States, lightly. People’s health being at stake, every precautionary measure to ensure that formalin is not used to preserve fish or any other food substance has to be taken. The major question that arises here is, since FSSAI unequivocally states that formalin is not permitted for use in foods, how does the Goa Food and Drugs Administration say that the formalin found in fish is within permissible limits? 

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