Natural antioxidants now required in Soil Association organic fish feeds

Natural antioxidants now required for organic aquafeeeds by U.K.-based organic certification body
November 29, 2007

Natural antioxidants now required in Soil Association organic fish feeds 

The U.K.-based organic certification body, the Soil Association, has met its target of eliminating the use of synthetic antioxidants in its certified organic fish feeds . Only natural antioxidants are now permitted in these feeds and their ingredients.

This is the first time such a requirement has been placed on any sector of the fish farming industry. Four months have now passed since the deadline set by the Soil Association in July 2007, and all those involved in the production of Soil Association-certified organic fish feeds and their ingredients have successfully switched to natural products.

Organic foods and animal feeds aim to avoid all synthetic ingredients, but while the terrestrial organic feed industry has already replaced synthetic antioxidants with natural alternatives, it has been more of a challenge to protect the unique highly unsaturated fats found in fishmeal and fishoil from spoilage by oxidation.

The more unsaturated an oil is, the more prone it is to spoilage (rancidity) by oxidation. The exceptional nutritional value of oily fish and their oils is mostly due to the high levels of omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA, both of which are highly unsaturated. The aquaculture industry has therefore relied on synthetic antioxidants (particularly ethoxyquin), but effective natural alternatives are now available.

After establishing the availability of potential natural products, the Soil Association set a deadline of 1 July 2007 after which all antioxidants used in organic fish feeds and their raw materials must be of natural origin. By working with fishmeal and oil manufacturers, feed mills and various companies developing natural antioxidant products, the necessary testing and development has taken place and the Soil Association has met its target.

Natural antioxidants typically use extracts of plants, seeds and nuts, and have active ingredients including various forms of vitamin E tocopherols, vitamin C, gallates (from gallnuts) and diterpenes (from rosemary).

Peter Bridson, Soil Association Aquaculture Programme Manager, said: "It has been very satisfying to bring all the links of the supply chain together to work on this project. It has required a lot of testing. We agreed the deadline with the stakeholders last year and everyone has worked together to achieve it. By using fishmeal and oil made from the recycled filleting wastes of fish already caught for human consumption, we already have the most sustainable feeds in the industry, and it is great to know that we can also protect their unique omega-3 fatty acids with natural antioxidants.”