Implications of green fish feed for consumer safety - carry-over of plant peptides, natural toxins and bioactive compounds
Feed for farmed fish consists nowadays mostly of plant ingredients because there are not enough marine raw materials to cover the growing demand. Plants commonly used in fish feed are wheat and legumes like soy and pea. The significant changes in the feed can have consequences for the fish and for the consumers of fish-based food. The provision of the fish with enough nutrients has been achieved through the production of innovative feed compositions. In contrast, potential effects on consumers have been less investigated. Thus, the Norwegian Scientific Committee for Food Safety (VKM) has recently pointed out in an updated benefit-risk assessment of fish and fish products that there is a need to find out if some plant ingredients might be transferred from the feed to the edible parts of fish, which could be a risk for human health.
The SafeFish project will therefore examine if some typical plant ingredients can be carried over from feed to food (Fig. 1). Three different substance groups will be analysed: potentially allergenic fragments of plant proteins (peptides), toxins produced by plant-colonising fungi (mycotoxins) and plant-produced compounds that resemble human hormones (phytoestrogens). Fish feed containing specific amounts of wheat, soy or pea will be produced and used in studies with zebrafish and on-growing farmed salmon under defined conditions in a research facility. Parts of the fish will be analysed with different methods to search for transferred substances, to look for possible changes in the biological functions of the fish, and to evaluate the potential health risk of consumers. The analytical methods used range from the specific detection of chemicals and proteins to DNA and RNA technologies and allergen testing in patients with food allergy.
The project is a collaboration of specialised teams at two Norwegian research institutes, two Norwegian universities, a Norwegian university hospital and an US-university, and includes the training of a PhD student.
For more information contact Christiane K. Fæste
Fig. 1 Schematic project overview.