January 12, 2004
Fishmeal Organization Doubts US Study On Farmed Salmon Health Hazard
The head of the world's largest fishmeal and oil manufacturers' body, UK-based International Fishmeal and Fish Oil Organization (IFFO), said last week that he doubted the results of a U.S. study into the potential health dangers of eating farmed salmon.
Stuart Barlow, director-general of IFFO also said that in some cases, farmed salmon was better for humans than those from the wild because the feed eaten could not be as easily monitored for safety.
According to a report in this week's journal Science, farmed salmon is so full of toxic chemicals it should only be eaten three times a year, with fish farmed in Scotland being the most contaminated.
The study said the culprit is "salmon chow" - the feed given to captive fish.
"I think they might have used old samples and compared the results with EU safety recommendations, which are already some of the most stringent in the world. The European Union's limits are tougher than even those set by the World Trade Organization (WTO) and are even higher than those set in the U.S.," Barlow said.
"Some of the salmon and feed samples used seem to have come from uncertain sources and are quite old. The results suggest that (toxic) levels are higher than they are today," Barlow added, speaking by telephone from IFFO's head office near London.
IFFO said fishmeal manufacturers were aware of the EU limits on toxins and were already sourcing more raw materials from South America, where toxin rates are lower than those found in Europe.
"In many cases, farmed salmon is safer than wild, because you can't monitor what the fish are eating in the open environment, Barlow said.
"We have new EU legislation in place that aim to filter out more dioxins and feed makers are only too aware they need to produce a quality product and use the best ingredients they can find," he added.
IFFO represents two-thirds of production and 95 percent of exports of fishmeal and oil worldwide.
Around 200,000 tonnes of fishmeal is used in Britain annually, half of which is consumed by the fish farming sector, while the rest is fed mainly to poultry.
Around two thirds of all fishmeal used is imported, mainly from Iceland, Denmark and Norway.
Fishmeal and fish oil in animal feeds was outlawed in Europe since 2002 amid concerns it could be contaminated with meat and bone meal - the suspected cause of mad cow disease in cattle.