Vietnam bans use of ethoxyquin in aquaculture

Banning the ingredient will safeguard Vietnam's aquaculture exports to the EU – one of its largest export markets.

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Following EU regulations will safeguard exports to one of the country’s largest markets

Vietnam will tighten controls on the use of the preservative ethoxyquin in aquafeed, the country’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) said.

Ethoxyquin, originally developed by Monsanto in the 1950s as a pesticide and antioxidant, is used in some countries as an animal feed additive and is used in pelleted chicken feed and as a feed stabilizer in salmon feed pellets. But in 2017, the EU suspended its authorization for use as an animal feed additive, so in also banning the ingredient, Vietnam can safeguard its aquaculture exports to the EU – one of its largest export markets.

Trần Đình Luân, director of the MARD’s Directorate of Fisheries, said ethoxyquin will be banned from feed for all species beginning April 1. Aquafeed will be inspected for the presence of the ingredient from now until March 31, according to a report.

In 2019, according to the Vietnam Association of Seafood Exporters and Producers (VASEP), Vietnam exported US$700 million worth of shrimp to the EU and US$227 million worth of tra fish, a species of catfish.

In many countries where ethoxyquin is approved for use, maximum residue limits are typically set between 77 and 150 parts per million (ppm). A 2015 review of the ingredient by the European Food Safety Authority found insufficient data to assess its safety as a feed additive. However, it found one of its metabolites, ethoxyquin quinone imine, to be possibly genotoxic, and p-phenetidine, an impurity that could be present from the manufacturing process, to be possibly mutagenic.

At the time, the European Union Association of Specialty Feed Ingredients and their Mixtures (FEFANA) said it understands the limitations in the risk assessment due to data gaps identified by the EFSA experts. However, in a statement, FEFANA stressed the important role that ethoxyquin plays in animal nutrition, saying it is a highly effective antioxidant used to preserve the nutritional value of key ingredients of animal diets. Furthermore, ethoxyquin prevents the production of oxidative reactive compounds in these ingredients and favors shelf life by slowing down the development of rancidity in fats. While natural antioxidants can help, “ethoxyquin is currently the most efficient antioxidant for this use,” according to FEFANA.

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