Panaji: The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) has set the ad hoc limit for naturally occurring formaldehyde in fish species.
For fresh fish including molluscs, crustaceans and echinoderms from fresh water, the maximum limit set by the regulatory body is 4.0 milligram/kilogram while for brackish water/marine origin, the maximum limit set is 100.0 milligram/kilogram.
The issue was examined by the concerned scientific panel of FSSAI before setting the above limits.
The panel has recommended a detailed assessment; however, taking into account the instruction of the High Court of Bombay at Goa as well as the scientific (technical and methodological) issues related to formaldehyde, it was then decided by the FSSAI to set the ad hoc limit for naturally occurring formaldehyde.
The ad hoc limits shall be applicable until the panel undertakes a final assessment and recommends final limit for naturally occurring formaldehyde.
The limit of 100.0 milligram/kilogram for brackish/marine fish has surprised many, as the state Food and Drugs Administration (FDA), in a press release issued on July 13, 2018, by quoting a study had claimed that the concentration of formaldehyde in marine fish is found to be varying between 2.38 to 2.95 mg/kg.
However, experts in the state have said that question cannot be raised over the limits set by FSSAI, as they have been examined by a scientific panel.
“The FDA should explain as to how they will identify the fish species, whether they are caught from freshwater or sea,” said one of the experts.
The experts said that it was high time for the state government and the regulatory bodies like FSSAI and FDA not to restrict themselves only to the issues of naturally occurring formaldehyde. They said that there was an urgent need to come out with a robust mechanism to stop the traders from adding ‘formalin,’ a cancer-causing agent, in fish as a preservative.