Fish going from Andhra Pradesh to Odisha will now be thoroughly checked after orders by the Odisha government on Thursday to examine the quality of fish being imported from its neighbouring state in order to detect the presence of formalin; a cancer-causing chemical, content in them.
The move came after the Assam government banned the sale of fish imported from Andhra Pradesh.
"Secretary, Directorate of Fisheries has been asked to conduct an inquiry into the matter and submit a report. Fish samples imported from Andhra Pradesh will be examined in the laboratory," said Odisha Fisheries and Animal Resources Development Minister Pradeep Maharathy.
The Department will take necessary action after it gets the probe report, he added. Most of the fish sold in the markets of Odisha is brought from Andhra Pradesh.
The Assam government on Wednesday banned the sale of fish imported from Andhra Pradesh and other states for 10 days following the detection of the presence of formalin, which is used to keep dead fish fresh.
The presence of formalin in the fish was noticed after a laboratory test carried out by the state Health Department.
The entire issue came to light on June 24, when over 6,000 kg of fish was seized at a state border checkpost at Walayar in Palakkad in Kerala. The seized fish, prawn and shrimp being brought in from Andhra Pradesh, were found to be laced with formalin, a carcinogenic substance.
Formalin is often used to preserve fish, which is an easily perishable food whose value depends on its freshness. And when fish is imported from another state, to prevent rot during transport, fish traders resort to using formalin.
Formalin is derived from formaldehyde, which is a substance that is carcinogenic to humans.
Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh launched a kit devised by the Central Institute of Fisheries Technology (CIFT) to help detect if fresh fish has been treated with formalin. The kit contains strips of paper and a reagent solution. If anyone suspected their fish is adulterated, they should first rub the fish with the paper and then put a drop of the solution on the paper. If it turns dark blue, it means the fish is contaminated.
However, the only way to know for certain if a fish has been contaminated is to send it to a lab for testing.