The Bihar government on Monday banned sale, transportation and storage of fish for 15 days in Patna Municipal corporation area, after reports confirmed presence of toxic chemical formalin in samples.
The decision was taken following the report of Kolkata's Central Food Laboratory, which confirmed the use of formalin and other heavy minerals like lead, cadmium and mercury beyond the permissible limit in all 10 samples of fish collected from Patna, officials said.
"Keeping public safety and health in mind, the department has decided to ban sale, transportation, storage of all types of fish for 15 days in Patna Municipal corporation area.
"All the 10 samples were found unsafe for human consumption under Food Safety and Standards Act 2006," Bihar Health Department's Principal Secretary-cum-Food Safety Commissioner Sanjay Kumar told reporters here.
Food Safety Officials had collected 10 samples from Patna Municipal Corpration area on October 10, 2018 and sent them to the Central Food Laboratory, Kumar said, adding, the specimen included local fish and those imported from Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal.
Formalin was found in excess of permissible limit in seven samples, while the heavy metals were detected in all 10 samples, he said.
Food Safety Officers have been directed to collect fresh samples from different cities, including Muzaffarpur, Purnea, Darbhanga, Bhagalpur, Gaya and Patna, Kumar said and added that necessary action would be taken based on the reports of CFL, Kolkata.
Mr Kumar said that it may take six-eight weeks to receive the reports of the new samples.
The health department would also ask Animal Husbandry Department officials to send an expert team to West Bengal and Andhra Pradesh.
"Our officials (the expert team) will apprise of the CFL report to their counterparts in Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal and would request them to get the matter probed," he said.
Mr Kumar said those found violating the provisions of the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 may attract either imprisonment of up to seven years or fine of up to Rs 10 lakh or both.
The use of formalin and other heavy metals beyond the normal limit may cause various ailments in humans like pneumonia, bronchitis, Hepatitis and cancer, the officials said.