Ethoxyquin is permitted as an additive for feedstuffs (E-number E324) in the EU up to a maximum limit of 150 mg/kg feed for all animals except for dogs, where the limit is 100 mg/kg.
The additive is used as an antioxidant in the feedstuff industry, in particular to improve the shelf life of fat-soluble vitamins and other fatty or otherwise oxidation-affine components (such as unsaturated fatty acids). Ethoxyquin is also used as a feed additive in fishmeal to prevent combustion during transport. The use of Ethoxyquin as a pesticide has been banned in the European Union since 2011.
Recent AGES Tests on Ethoxyquin in Fish
A total of 44 fish samples from Austria and abroad (in particular trout and salmon, but also gilt-head bream, carp, iridescent shark, char, catfish and pikeperch) were examined for traces of the feed additive Ethoxyquin and two of its metabolites between April and November 2015. AGES established a new test method to analyse the two metabolites – the dimer of Ethoxyquin and Ethoxyquin chinonimin.
Overview of Results
- Ethoxyquin was found in 12 of the 44 fish samples. The Ethoxyquin levels in the samples ranged from 0.011 and 0.184 mg/kg and appeared in both domestic and foreign fish specimens.
- The Ethoxyquin dimer could be found in 26 of 44 samples of domestic and foreign fish ranging from 0.019 to 0.604 mg/kg.
- Ethoxyquin-Chinonimin was found in one of 44 samples at 0.021mg/kg.
EFSA Safety Concerns
The EFSA has evaluated Ethoxyquin and its metabolites and concluded that at least one metabolite could be genotoxic (i.e. DNA damaging).
However, given the lack of data, the EFSA was unable to provide conclusive evidence for the safety of consumers, animals and the environment.
The European Commission will review the approval of Ethoxyquin as a feed additive based on this risk assessment. Any new findings will be published here.