Response to German TV programme on the Norwegian salmon farming industry

Following a German TV programme on the salmon farming industry, broadcasted by ZDF on 14th December, IFFO responded directly to them with the following points: 

The use of Ethoxyquin

Ethoxyquin has been approved for use as an antioxidant in fishmeal, an ingredient of farmed fish feed, for many years with no evidence of any risk to the health of consumers of farmed fish. It is currently authorised at 150mg/kg in feed but as with all feed additives, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) periodically reviews safety data and re-authorises use if safe. The EFSA Opinion on the use of ethoxyquin in animal feed was published in November 2015. While no obvious health risk was identified, the EFSA Opinion was inconclusive, requesting more data on which to make a full safety assessment. The European Commission is providing a period of time for the additional safety data to be provided, recognising the absence of known health risks and important role that ethoxyquin has in the animal feed supply chain.

Until such time that the additional information is provided to the European Commission and a decision made on reauthorisation, we can look at the level of risk associated with ethoxyquin, based on the data we know. A calculation shows that a 70kg person would have to consume 1.75kg of salmon (approximately 12 portions of salmon weighing 150g each) per day, containing the highest likely residue of 0.2 mg/kg ethoxyquin (as reported in a recent study), to reach the Acceptable Daily Intake (ADI) of 0.005mg/kg set by the World Health Organisation. The consumption of farmed salmon may be said to pose only negligible risk through ethoxyquin as compared to the many known benefits associated with eating oily fish.

While alternative antioxidants exist, they are typically less effective, require higher inclusion rates and/or incur greater cost. However, IFFO recognizes the need for all feed ingredients to be safe and is working with industry partners and EU authorities to provide data for these studies. At present, calls to ban ethoxyquin are not supported by scientific evidence and decisions on use should only be made once current research has concluded. The fishmeal industry supports all efforts to provide further data information on the permitted safe level of both ethoxyquin and its metabolites. The industry ensures that at all times ethoxyquin is used responsibly and that the levels of the antioxidant and its metabolites do not exceed the agreed limits set by the EU. The amounts of ethoxyquin that we consume by eating farmed fish are very low compared to the internationally set permitted safe limits.

The EU regularly monitors the use and safety of all feed and food additives to ensure consumer safety.

Peruvian fishmeal

Peru is the world’s leading fishmeal producer, with the vast majority of production coming from dedicated vessels landing to licenced, independently certified plants. The fishery is carefully managed and the fishmeal produced is high quality, safe and fully traceable. Peruvian Anchoveta is a short lived, small and bony species and despite years of promotion and encouragement by the Peruvian government, the human consumption market is still less than 3% of the catch and there is no sign of any significant market developing.  Marine ingredients are now used selectively to the extent that, in all fed aquaculture, 0.3kg of fish (before conversion to fishmeal) creates 1.0kg of farmed fish. Marine proteins are highly digestible, form the essential basis of all juvenile farmed fish diets, and marine oils are still the best source of long chain Omega-3 fats.

Where whole fish are used for fishmeal production, they are generally sourced from small pelagic fish species.  Species of this type (such as the Peruvian anchovy) are characterised by fast growth rates, early maturation and high levels of productivity.  These characteristics make these fisheries comparatively easy to predict and manage compared with slower growing, later maturing species such as cod and haddock.  The Peruvian anchovy fishery is notable as a fishery where the industry works very closely with the government, and shows decades of successful stock management even in the case of extreme environmental change such as El Nino events.  The marine ingredients industry is very aware of the need for a healthy ecosystem and is investing in research to understand how to balance the needs of fishing for human nutrition with the needs of the ecosystem.

Since 2009, IFFO, together with the support of the industry, retailers and NGOs, developed an independent third party certification scheme for marine ingredients, which was adopted by the industry in 2011. The IFFO Responsible Supply (IFFO RS) now certifies over 45% of the total global supply of fishmeal and fish oil, a higher figure than any other animal feed ingredient can claim. 35% of the global raw material comes from recycling trimmings and offcuts from seafood processing, a figure that continues to grow over time. Peru holds the highest number of IFFO RS certified companies and production sites, and produces about 17% of the total certified supply. The Standard’s reach is now being expanded to incorporate social practices with the development of version 2.0, which should be adopted in late 2017.

In the city of Chimbote, a much-awaited underwater 10km pipeline was completed last year for the disposal of treated wastewater from the Industrial Fishing Establishments (IFE) of El Ferrol Bay of Chimbote at a cost of US$18m. The equipment and cutting-edge technology were developed in accordance with the requirements established by PRODUCE (Peru) in relation to compliance with the Maximum Permissible Limits (MPL) law for fishery wastewater. It was developed within the guidelines of hydrooceanographic studies which favour the dispersal and dissolution of the wastewater and so maximizing natural decomposition. The project cost several million US dollars and was funded by local businesses, many of whom are IFFO members. All IFFO members in Chimbote are using the new facility and welcomed the reduction in environmental impact the project offers.  IFFO visited the site in May 2016 and saw this impressive development at first hand.  The project is an excellent example of the fishmeal industry working collaboratively to the benefit of the local community.  In addition, the fishmeal industry has invested a figure of at least US$76m from 2009 on a range environmental improvements in Chimbote plants.  The information presented in your programme was out of date.

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