Storm is brewing
over Euro-ban on
fishmeal in feed
By Tony McDougal
and Amanda Cheesley
PROPOSALS to ban fishmeal from ruminant feed, part of the EU Commissions drive to stop any animal protein entering cattle and sheep diets, seem certain to arouse a storm of protest.
The commission has come under increasing pressure to ban fishmeal because of consumer concerns about animal feed, triggered by the BSE saga, and conservationists claims that white fish stocks are under threat. A consultation document will be released at the end of this month.
The feed industry insisted there was no scientific or environmental justification for a ban, adding that a recent ADAS report showed that there was no single alternative protein that could replace fishmeal.
About 20% of the 220,000t of fishmeal in UK animal diets, with a market value of almost £20m, is fed to ruminants.
Phil Hudson, NFU feedstuffs spokesman, said that while consideration had to be given to consumer interests, there was no evidence of any risk to human health from feeding ruminants fishmeal.
"This is not a new product – it has been a source of protein since the beginning of the century."
Sandra Black, Grain and Feed Trade Association spokeswoman, said the organisation had set up the Fishmeal Information Network earlier this year to counter the threat posed by supermarkets and farm assurance schemes that wanted to ban fishmeal, and to highlight the value of the product in stock diets.
Stuart Barlow, director general of the International Fish and Oil Meal Association, said he was concerned that the consultation document would not be seen by any veterinary or livestock committee before formal proposals were announced early in 1998.
Jim Reed, director general of the supply trade organisation UKASTA, said the use of fishmeal was common across many northern European member states. And, while nutritionists could find alternatives, they would be more expensive, he warned.
The commissions consultation paper will also look at whether there should be a ban on feeding fallen animals and other high risk material, such as animal waste, to pigs and poultry.
The paper follows the EUs scientific conference on meat and bonemeal in Brussels in July. EU Farm Commissioner Franz Fischler said at the time that because ruminants were vegetarians, logic demanded that they should not be fed any animal protein.