February 27, 2017
US FDA approves fish feed ingredient taurine
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved an ingredient for fish feed that reduces reliance on feed made of other fish.
Called taurine (pronounced TAR-een), the ingredient is a nutrient important for proper behavior in fish. For example, a flounder deficient in taurine won't hide as well.
Carnivores need taurine in their diets as it is essential for many bodily functions, including fat digestion, and eyesight. People and some animals naturally produce taurine. But other carnivores, like some fish, do not, so that they have to get this nutrient from their diet.
As early as 2011, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the US Department of Agriculture jointly identified taurine as a key need in fish feeds.
However, the European Union and Canada, among others, have been feeding taurine to farmed fish for years.
According to Michael Rust, science adviser for NOAA Fisheries' Office of Aquaculture, while taurine can be sourced from other animal products and marine red algae, experts can produce it synthetically.
Using fish feed with taurine would also cost farmers less than half of what it costs to feed fish to other fish, Rust added.