Report unveils no unwanted substances in Norwegian farmed fish in 2021

The levels of pharmaceuticals and environmental toxins were below the limit values in 2021 farmed fish.

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Credit: Helge Skodvin, Marine Research Institute
September 1, 2022

A new report from the Institute of Marine Research, on behalf of the Norwegian Food Safety Authority, found low levels of pharmaceuticals and environmental toxins in farmed fish in 2021. The Institute continuously analyzes the content of illegal and legal veterinary drugs and environmental toxins in Norwegian farmed fish to ensure safe farmed fish.

In 2021, 2,827 samples were analyzed out of a total of 14,135 farmed fish. One-third of the samples were analyzed for illegal substances, and these samples were taken from all life stages of the fish. The rest of the samples were taken at the slaughterhouse and analyzed for residues of unwanted substances, which include legally used veterinary drugs but also environmental toxins. Most of the samples were farmed salmon, but the researchers also checked rainbow trout, trout, halibut, turbot, char, cod and spotted catfish.

Found remnants of dye

The samples were analyzed for illegal substances, such as substances with anabolic effects or illegal drugs. Residues of the dye crystal violet were detected in two samples of farmed salmon. The Norwegian Food Safety Authority concluded that the finding was not due to illegal use, but likely contamination of the samples during sampling. Apart from this, no traces of illegal substances were found in any of the samples.

Lice agents below the limit value

The samples were also analyzed for several approved drugs, such as antibiotics, anesthetics or drugs used against parasites. Residues of the lice agents emamectin and lufenuron were found, but the levels were below the limit value.

In addition, residues of cypermethrin were found in several samples. Cypermethrin is an insecticide, which can be used as a lice remedy, but is also used as a pesticide and can thus be transferred to the fish via the feed. No residues of other legally used drugs were found.

No excesses of environmental toxins

For environmental toxins, an upper limit value has been set for dioxins, dioxin-like PCBs, total PCB-6 and the heavy metals mercury, lead and cadmium. This year's monitoring results showed that the levels in farmed fish do not exceed the limit values ​​for environmental toxins.

Check out the report here.