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For Immediate Release
Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Dave Bard

Norwegian Report Finds Fault with Farmed Salmon Feed

Pure Salmon Campaign Calls for Industry Reform

OSLO, NORWAY — A new Norwegian study that calls for cleaning pollutants in farmed salmon feed prompted the Pure Salmon Campaign, a global project working to improve the way salmon is produced, to call on industry to reform.

The Norwegian Scientific Committee on Food Safety (VKM) released a report on the risks and benefits of fish and seafood consumption in Norway. As part of this two-year study, the ad-hoc group composed of Norwegian government scientists looked at contaminants in farmed salmon feed and recommended that exposure to dioxin and dioxin-like PCBs can be reduced by changing or purifying the feed.

"We are pleased the Norwegian government recognized the problem with contaminants in farmed salmon feed and recommends that industry make the effort to clean it up," said Andrea Kavanagh, Pure Salmon Campaign Director. "Since Norway exports its fish and feed worldwide, this will benefit consumers all around the globe."

According to the English-language summary of the report: "Farmed fish is one source of exposure to dioxins and dioxin-like PCB that currently can be influenced within a reasonable time frame without reducing fish consumption. This may be achieved by selecting feed ingredients with naturally low levels of organic pollutants or by using purifying processes. Fish and other seafood should contain the lowest possible levels of contaminants and other undesirable substances so that the safety margin for the entire consumption level of fatty fish can be held high enough to reap the health benefits. If marine fat is replaced by vegetable fat, the levels of dioxins and dioxin-like PCB can be reduced, but the nutritional benefits will change as well."

A press release issued by Mattilsynet, the Norwegian Food Safety Authority, said: "One of the few sources of dioxins and dioxin-like PCB that is possible to reduce is feed given to farmed fish — it is thus an aim to reduce these levels. The EU has announced that the maximum levels for dioxin and dioxin-like PCB in fish feed will be reduced by the end of 2008. The problem has been on the agenda a long time and the EU has encouraged the industry to increase their efforts in order to reduce the levels of dioxin and dioxin-like PCB in fish feed. We are following up this encouragement by planning a meeting with the industry in order to invite a dialogue concerning the coming regulations, status of and technological possibilities for decontamination. We believe that it is in the industry’s interest to be pro-active in this area."

Indeed some in industry are prepared to fix the problem. Kjell Bjordal, C.E.O. of Norwegian feed company Ewos, told IntraFish in a March 6, 2006 article: "We’ll more than willingly cleanse to an even stricter requirement if the authorities tell us that’s the way it has to be."

In 2004, Norway exported 830,000 metric tons of feed and 537,000 metric tons of Atlantic farmed salmon worldwide. Norwegian Atlantic farmed salmon represented 46% of the world market.

"It is especially hopeful that the Norwegian food safety authority is opening a dialogue with industry and is encouraging them to be pro-active in addressing the problem of contaminants in feed," said Kavanagh. "We look forward to prompt action and to the day when farmed salmon is free of contaminants.

The Scientific Committee on Food Safety (VKM) is an independent institution which advices the Norwegian Food Safety Authority (Mattilsynet), the Norwegian Ministry of Health and Care Services and other regulatory bodies on scientific issues related to food, animal health and plant health. It has been charged with developing this report by the Mattilsynet.

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