FAO.org

Home > In Action > Projects > Improving food safety in Bangladesh > Resources > Did you know > Detail
Improving food safety in Bangladesh

What is Formalin?


01/12/2015

Formalin is the soluble form of formaldehyde and has multiple applications as bactericide or fungicide in the industry. Formaldehyde is one of the simplest molecule in nature and is present in most living organisms at low levels. At high levels, formaldehyde has a pungent, irritating smell.

Formaldehyde has been reported to be fraudulently added to food to extend its shelf-life. The detection of illegally-added formaldehyde is not simple as food contains natural formaldehyde in ranges between 0.01 mg/kg to 293 mg/kg.

Humans metabolize high levels of formaldehyde per day being no health risks associated with the consumption of natural formaldehyde from the diet. Only high levels of formaldehyde in food can be an indication of adulteration. However, strict inspections along the supply chain are necessary to avoid the use of formalin in food. Inspectors might target sprayers and solvents in areas where food is stored or sold.