Surprise check in Yangon food market finds formaldehyde used as preservative

A Yangon market.
A Yangon market.

Less than two months after Myanmar’s Food and Drug Administration declared victory over the use of formaldehyde in Yangon food markets, the poisonous preservative is back.

The FDA, however, says it will step up its efforts to eradicate its use in food.

The continued use of formaldehyde was discovered in Latha Township’s Theingyi Market last month, when FDA officials carried out a surprise check on noodles and bean curd.

In July 2016, the FDA penalized noodle producers who used formaldehyde as preservative by adding their names to a public shaming list. Now, the body intends to do more.

After last month’s discovery, FDA director-general Dr. Than Htut told Eleven: “Last year, we warned 66 noodle producers to stop using [formaldehyde as a preservative]. The only option left for us is to take action. At this stage, we will have to file cases against them in court.”

Formaldehyde, also known as formalin, is widely used to preserve human bodies. It is sometimes misused as a preservative in tofu, noodles, seafood, milk, and dairy products.

The long-term or excessive consumption of formaldehyde can cause severe stomachache, nausea, fainting, renal failure, and death. Inhaling formaldehyde in its gaseous form can result in lung cancer, according to the FDA.

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