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Formalin being sprayed on mangoes to extend their shelf life in Bangladesh (File Photo)

BD agrees life term for formalin offence

The ‘Formalin Control Act-2015’ was pushed through Parliament by voice votes on Monday. Commerce Minister Tofail Ahmed said once enacted, the law will help bring the use and business of formalin under a legal framework. Formalin is used in laboratories, hospitals, tanneries, textiles and hatcheries. But it is being widely used in perishable food stuff to make them appear fresh with harmful effects on the human body.

The law proposes maximum life sentence with Tk 2 million in fine for offenders. Once implemented, formalin control committees will be formed at every district and Upazila. Import, production, shipment, stock, sales and use of the preservative will require licence. It will be legally binding on licensed traders to show their sales document to the committees. Minister Tofail said this would ensure “clarity and accountability”.

The maximum punishment for breaching licence terms is seven years in prison with Tk 500,000 in fine, but the government may revoke the licence as well. Anyone shipping formalin without licence will spend two and a half years in jail and pay up to Tk 300,000 in fine. One in possession of equipment that may be used to produce formalin will be hauled in jail for two and a half years and fined up to Tk 200,000. The law will be effective for formalin, formaldehyde and other government-approved chemicals used for formalin production.

Authorities can raid licensed institutions without search warrants. The offenders will be tried at special tribunal under the Special Powers Act, 1974. First-class magistrates courts and mobile courts can also try the offenders.

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