Australian feature on EC approval of animal meal in fish food

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 6th March 2013

Pork and poultry meal will be allowed in fish feed in Europe from 1 July 2013, following an announcement from the European Commission (EC) on 14 February 2013.

The approval goes against the UK Food Standards Agency’s recommendations. Use of animal meal had been banned in 2001, after its role in the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (better known as ‘mad cow disease’) crisis.

‘Mad cow disease’ and animal meal in stock feed

Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), often called ‘mad cow disease’, killed tens of thousands of cows in the UK and many more were destroyed because of concerns about the safety of the meat. More than 160 people in the UK died after eating beef that was contaminated with the disease.

A British inquiry into the causes of the epidemic concluded that the disease in cattle was caused by the animals, which are normally herbivores, being given animal feed that contained the meat and bones of other cattle.

Australian reaction

In Australia, the main fish feed manufacturers are Ridley and Skretting. Both companies are members of the Stock Feed Manufacturers’ Council of Australia (SFMCA), which operates ‘FeedSafe’, a Quality Assurance Accreditation Program for the Australian stock feed industry. All members of the SFMCA are required to fully comply with FeedSafe regulations in order to keep their membership.

The central aspect of FeedSafe is a Code of Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP), which has been developed in conjunction with the Chief Veterinary Officers within each State, and the final document has the endorsement of the Primary Industries Ministerial Council.

Animal meal okay for fish, says Australian expert

John Spragg, Executive Officer for the SFMCA, told Australian Food News that the change in Europe has no direct impact on Australian aquafeed formulations or what’s used as raw material. Australia did not implement a ban on animal meal in fish feeds in response to the BSE crisis.

Australia’s response to the BSE crisis only banned the use of animal material in feeds for ruminant animals, like cattle, Spragg said. Unlike cattle, fish are not naturally herbivores.

“The use of animal proteins in fish feeds provides an alternative protein source as the global supply of fish meal is declining and there is rapid growth in aquaculture production. The move in Europe is a realistic action in utilising alternate protein sources,” he added.

Australian legal position

According to industry legal experts Food Legal, the regulations in each Australian State require that a seafood business must take all reasonable measures to ensure inputs to its operations, including fish feed, do not adversely affect the safety of the seafood.

FoodLegal says that all imported fish feeds must come with a complete list of their ingredients, expressed in percentages. The origin of each ingredient – animal, plant, microbial, chemical, vitamin or mineral – must be made clear, and any feed that contains animal ingredients must list the species and the country of origin for the animal ingredients. Similar restrictions apply to imported bait.

Fish feed manufacturer Skretting says all its land animal raw materials are sourced solely from Australia, from abattoirs that are accredited for export by the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service, or independently quality certified.  These are then processed in accordance with the Australian Standards for the Hygienic Rendering of Animal Products.

Ridley Aqua-Feeds, says its experienced team of nutritionists ensure that its feed products are of the highest quality formulations for fish feed. Ridley Aqua-Feeds produces 80,000 tonnes of acquaculture feed per annum, which makes it the largest producer of aquaculture feed in Australia.