The Indian food authority – FSSAI has once again re-operationalised the regulations under the FSS (Food Product Standards and Food Additives) Amendment Regulations, 2021, governing the limit of naturally occurring formaldehyde in freshwater and marine fish.

“These draft regulations were notified and final regulations are likely to take some more time before being notified and enforced,” reads the FSSAI order adding that keeping in mind the public health interest and to ensure food safety and fair practices in the food businesses operations, it has been decided to re-operationalise the provisions of these regulations with effect from Sept 13, 2022, asking the food businesses to comply with these provisions.

According to the regulations, the fishes were divided in four groups and the limit of formaldehyde was set.

Group 1 consists of marine species including all finfishes (including Barracuda, Billfishes, Bombay Duck, Bullseyes, Catfishes, Croakers, Eels, Filefishes and Puffers, Flat fishes, Goatfishes, Groupers (Rock Cods), Half Beaks and Full Beaks, Horse Mackerel, Leather Jacket (Queen Fish), Mackerel, Mullets, Other Carangids, Other Clupeoids, Anchovies, Other Perches, Pigface Breams, Pomfrets, Ribbon Fish, Sardines, Seer Fishes/Spanish Mackerel, Silver Bellies/Biddies, Snappers, Tarpons, Threadfin Breams, Threadfins, Tuna and Bonitos, White Fish and any other commercial varieties), elasmobranchs, crustaceans and molluscs except those under Group Ill & IV.

The Group II includes fishes of freshwater origin including Finfishes (including Indian Major Carps, Minor Carps, Exotic Carps, Freshwater Catfishes, Snakeheads/Murrels, Tilapia, Trout and all other freshwater fin fishes), crustaceans and molluscans.

The limit of formaldehyde is fixed at 4.0 mg/kg max. for both Group I & II.

Group III consists of marine species including Lizard fishes and any other marine fishes not covered under Group I and the formaldehyde limit is fixed at 8mg/kg, while the Group IV consists of all frozen stored marine fish products and the limit of formaldehyde is 100mg/kg max.

The regulations lay that the limits were subjected to revision on the basis of data collected over different seasons and geographical locations and upon analysis and recommendation by the scientific panel, as and when required while for fish and fish products of marine origin other than those mentioned in Group I and II, the limit of naturally occurring formaldehyde shall not be more than 100 ppm.

FSSAI had framed these regulations specifying the limit of naturally occurring formaldehyde in freshwater as well as marine fish and operationalised on Feb 10, 2020, and subsequently re-operationalised in August 2020, and November 2020, September 2021 and May 2022