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Natural antioxidants give feed the full organic stamp

UK - The Soil Association says it has reached its target of eliminating the use of synthetic antioxidants in its certified organic fish feeds. Only natural antioxidants are now permitted in its certified feeds and their ingredients.

This is the first time such a requirement has been placed on any sector of the fish farming industry and the Association says that manufacturers producing feed under its standards are now complying with its non-synthetic demands.

Four months have now passed since the deadline set by the Soil Association in July 2007, and all manufacturers involved in the production of Soil Association-certified organic fish feeds and their ingredients are now successfully using natural alternatives.

Switching to all natural ingredients has been a challenge for fish nutritionists. Protecting the unique highly unsaturated fats, such as the omega-3 fatty acids DHA and EPA that are found in fishmeal and fish oil from oxidation is more difficult - and more so in feeds used in a aquatic environment. The more unsaturated an oil is, the more prone it is to spoilage by oxidation. It's the reason why most fish feed manufacturers include on synthetic antioxidants (particularly ethoxyquin.

The Soil association says that effective natural antioxidants are available. Most are extracts of plants, seeds and nuts, and comprise 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 the project has embraced all the links of the supply and has required significant development.

"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 good to know that we can also protect their unique omega-3 fatty acids with natural antioxidants,” he added.