Formalin scare: Goa lifts ban on fish imports; keeps strict vigil on border

Panaji: The Goa government has lifted the ban on the import of fish from other states, and is keeping a strict vigil on border check posts to ensure consignments entering its territory are free of toxic chemicals. The fish import ban was imposed in Goa last month in the wake of formalin scare and it was lifted last night.

Food and Drugs Administration Minister Vishwajit Rane told PTI today that teams of experts from his department thoroughly checked fish-laden trucks that arrived on the Goa border since last night.

The teams were stationed at Pollem is South Goa, which borders Karnataka, and Patradevi in North Goa along the Maharashtra border. They took fish samples from these trucks and did on-the-spot analysis for presence of any harmful chemical. No chemical was found in the fish samples, he said.

The government had banned import of fish on July 18 after the Food and Drugs Administration’s (FDA) initial report confirmed presence of formalin, a toxic chemical, in them. Formalin was applied on fish imported from outside the state as a preservative, according to the FDA.

The chemical, harmful for human health, is used to preserve bodies and prevent their decay in mortuaries. The department had later withdrawn its report.

“Testing of imported fish samples started at Pollem and Patradevi check posts from midnight onwards. Fourteen trucks carrying fish from Karnataka had arrived at the Pollem check post till 7.30 am today,” Rane said.

At Patradevi, three vehicles entered the state and fish samples collected from them tested negative for chemicals, the minister said. The FDA will keep a vigil at the border even during the day time, he said.

The Congress had stalled the Assembly during the recently-concluded Monsoon Session for three days over the issue of formalin-laced fish, demanding a thorough probe into the entire episode.

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