No, zinc oxide is not banned in the European Union

Animal Nutrition Views

Dr. Ioannis Mavromichalis is an animal nutritionist holding graduate degrees from Kansas State University (MSc) and University of Illinois (PhD). He is the Principal of Ariston Nutrition Consulting International. He may be contacted at [email protected]. See all author stories and blogs.

No, zinc oxide is not banned in the European Union

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What was banned was not zinc oxide, but the high dosages of zinc from any source

As expected, the recent enactment of the EU regulation regarding zinc oxide (ZnO) has created considerable conflict and confusion among feed professionals.

First, let us be clear that zinc oxide was used to control gut health in piglets. To achieve this result, we had to use up to 3,000 ppm Zn from zinc oxide. That means, a zinc oxide product with 75% zinc was added at 4 kg/MT. However, as most zinc oxide products in the EU that had such clearance to be used for this reason contains about 90% zinc oxide, it was common to just add 3 kg of that (often branded) product, ending up with about 2,700 ppm zinc from zinc oxide, which was not perfect, but it did the job. However, this led many, including authorities, to add and control zinc oxide in terms of zinc oxide ppm – but again that was a minor problem.

Now, the EU has enacted a regulation that prohibits the incorporation of any form of zinc in piglet feeds above the level of 150 ppm (in the complete feed). In essence, it banned the use of zinc (from any source) at pharmacological doses. The EU did not ban the use of zinc oxide – it just happened that zinc oxide was the most known source for this problem. Other products that provided zinc at pharmacological dosages were affected. And zinc oxide is till traded freely in the EU.

What was banned (again) was not zinc oxide, but the high dosages of zinc from any source. For some, this might seem straightforward, but I have had requests regarding removing zinc oxide as a source of zinc as a nutrient in premixes. It is perfectly fine to continue using zinc oxide, if that is your choice, as a nutrient as long as the final feed does not exceed the new limits.