Antioxidants are added to both human food and animal feeds in order to protect them from the damaging effects of oxidation. They work by reacting with oxygen before it can react with the resource that they are protecting. Typically, antioxidants are used to protect fats and oils from the damaging effects of oxidation.
Because they contain high levels of polyunsaturated fat, both fishmeal and fish oil are vulnerable to oxidation and therefore require protection. Fishmeal is made even more prone to oxidation because of the presence of trace minerals. For many years, ethoxyquin has been the most effective antioxidant at preventing the highly unsaturated lipids in fishmeal from potential self-heating and combustion during storage and transportation.
It is because of this and other risks, that the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) currently stipulates the use of an antioxidant such as ethoxyquin as a mandatory requirement for the marine transportation of fishmeal.
In the European Union, ethoxyquin is currently authorised as an antioxidant, and the upper limit for all antioxidants either alone or in combination is set at 150 mg/kg of feed (Directive 70/524/EEC).
Typically, fishmeal makes up 10-20% of the diet for farmed salmon. At present, there is no set limit for ethoxyquin levels in salmon in the EU. Japan has a maximum residues limit (MRL) of 1mg/ kg for all fish species, while the World Health Organisation has set a limit for the acceptable daily intake (ADI) of ethoxyquin of 0.005mg/kg. Additionally, results from an official Norwegian monitoring programme has established that a daily consumption of 300g of salmon would contribute 4-15% of the ADI.
In addition to ensuring the amount of ethoxyquin present in the salmon sourced from Norway and Chile by Pittman Seafoods is well within current mandated limits, third-party laboratory analysis of ethoxyquin levels continues to be a key part of our overall monitoring programme. At the same time, we are working closely with our suppliers in order to meet any new EU regulations.