Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority (BAFRA) has notified that starting August 1 imports of chilled fish and crustacean from India would be allowed only with a health certificate issued by the Export Inspection Council (EIC) of India.

The fish importers are asked to import fish from suppliers that are registered with EIC.

According to the notification, BAFRA signed a memorandum of understanding with the EIC. EIC will test and certify food and agriculture products that are exported to Bhutan.

The EIC carries out routine inspection, monitoring and testing of fish and fish product establishments registered with the council for export or certification, according to BAFRA.

BAFRA said this is to mainstream imports of foods and agriculture products into Bhutan from India and to ensure food safety and quality.

“The general public and the importers of these food commodities are requested to extend full cooperation in the overall interest of food safety in Bhutan,” it states.

BAFRA started testing all fresh fish consignments entering at the entry points for formalin since July 3 after Indian media reported that fish contained formalin and were seized in some of the Indian states.

According to the authority, all fresh fish imported into Bhutan tested negative to formalin adulteration till July 18. However, two consignments of fish species Pankaj and Rui consistently tested positive to formalin presence when BAFRA conducted the test at Phuentsholing on July 19.

The consignments are seized and disposed of as per the Livestock Rules and Regulation 2017.

Formalin is a solution of chemical substance used as a preservative for biological specimens, including the human corpse.

According to Indian media, there are several risks associated with ingesting formalin. Having even 30 millilitres of a solution, which contains as little as 37 percent formalin, can kill a fully-grown adult.

Staff reporter