Toxins in fish feed underscore need for vigilance – UN agency

Toxins in fish feed underscore need for vigilance – UN agency

Fish farming
Warning of the dangers of toxins in fish feed, and calling for greater vigilance to protect aquaculture, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) opened a conference on the issue today in China.

Warning of the dangers of toxins in fish feed, and calling for greater vigilance to protect aquaculture, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) opened a conference on the issue today in China.

The agency cited recent incidents, including when feed used on some United States fish farms contained the toxin melamine.

“The convoluted way in which it ended up being fed to fish destined for human consumption underscores the difficulties involved in ensuring product safety in today’s era of transnational fish production, processing and distribution networks: feed made with tainted wheat gluten produced in China was exported by a U.S. firm and sold to at least two Canadian suppliers, which in turn exported it to fish farms in the United States,” FAO said in a news release.

More recently, several US states banned certain catfish imports from overseas after tests on frozen fillets showed that some contained blacklisted antibiotics, the agency noted.

These incidents illustrate the importance of ensuring product safety in fish farming – the most rapidly growing food production sector for over a decade now – according to Lahsen Ababouch, a fish product safety expert with FAO. Aquaculture today supplies some 44 per cent of all fish consumed worldwide.

“Today’s global chain of fish production and supply is extremely complicated,” said Mr. Ababouch. “With nearly half of all fish eaten today coming from farms, and some 12 million people dependent on fish farming for their daily income, ensuring that farmed fish products are safe to eat and of the highest possible quality is crucial.”

Ensuring safety and quality over the entire length of the fish supply chain is one of the main issues to be discussed this week at a three-day aquaculture trade conference in China organized by FAO and the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture that opened today.