EFFOP statement on the safety of European fishmeal
European Fishmeal (EFFOP) is aware that an issue has been raised in relation to the content of PFAS in fishmeal. This comes after the Danish DTU Food Institute carried out a technical examination of Danish organic eggs. They believe the PFAs originate from fishmeal which is used as a feed ingredient. We take this issue very seriously and have initiated analyses to get a complete picture of all the fish species that are used to produce European fishmeal. A database will be established to map the PFA profile of European fishmeal batches that can then be used for future risk assessments in animal feeds. There is a large paucity of knowledge in our current scientific understanding of the distribution of PFAs in the whole value chain. As an industry, we urge the continuation of high-quality scientific research that can support policy decisions and any future regulation or management of this issue. We refer to the following technical information below:
- Since autumn 2022 preliminary analysis of Danish fishmeal has seen no cause for concern, the values found reflect the current values in EU regulation, that entered into force in January 2023, for whole fish on wet basis (8 μg /kg body weight: https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/EN/TXT/PDF/?uri=CELEX:32022R2388). There are no values set for feed ingredients and the fact that fishmeal is a dry powder with little moisture should not be taken for granted when performing these comparisons, since dry powders contain little water and are therefore more concentrated.
- Unfortunately, the original investigation did not contain traceable origins in relation to the fishmeal used in the feed mixes for chickens. EFFOP is coordinating with the appropriate authorities, but we refer to technical information in point 3. Indhold af PFAS i fiskemel og via indhold i økologisk foder i økologiske æg(pdf).
- A global analysis of fishmeal from ninety-two commercial fishmeals in the United states (n=9), China (n=28), Europe (n=5), South America (n=45) and southeast Asia (n=5) revealed the highly variable nature of fishmeal (Li et al., 2019). This is due to seasonality, species, site of catch and production method. Therefore, the fishmeal that is either measured or used as feed is highly context specific and should not be representative of a whole industry. EFFOP is working to map areas of risk and how fishmeal from these areas falls into current regulations.
- In 2022, the Norwegian Marine Research Institute released its technical report on contaminants in farmed Salmon, rainbow trout, cod and arctic char with values averaging 0 μg/kg (https://www.hi.no/en/hi/nettrapporter/rapport-fra-havforskningen-en-2021-40). Whereas a recent Dutch study showed that most of the farmed fish (trout, catfish, turbot, salmon, tilapia, pangasius) were among the lowest contaminated samples for PFAs in a nationwide investigation when comparing against wild caught fish and shrimp (Zafeiraki et al., 2019; averages for farmed fish ranged from 0.06 to 1.5 μg/kg). Protein and fat from fishmeal and oil contribute significantly to modern aquafeeds and can be as high as 25% for Atlantic Salmon (Aas et al., 2019) and thus there seems to be minimal transfer when compared to organic egg production.
In summary of the peer reviewed information above, PFA levels in fishmeal are very context specific and likely driven by species-specifics, production methods and spatial and temporal variations. We recommend that policymakers bear this in mind and hope that future discussions can lead to judicious, public risk assessments for all ingredients used in animal feed. We believe so far that the highlighted PFA accumulation from the technical study in Denmark may be specific to eggs. But more information is needed. Fishmeal and fish oil are one of the most important animal feed ingredients on the planet and its removal is likely to cause socio-economic challenges for the food sector as well as health and welfare problems for livestock due to sub-optimal nutrition provided from alternative sources.