Aker BioMarine's purpose-built krill harvester Antarctic Endurance. The company no longer uses ethoxyquin as an antioxidant on any of its production lines.

Canada gives green light to krill-based aquafeed ingredient

Large customers ‘eagerly awaiting’ resumption of imports after pause caused by evaluation process, says Aker BioMarine


Krill harvester Aker BioMarine has renewed its registration with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) following the removal of ethoxyquin as a feed additive to its krill meal product, QRILL Aqua.

The approval by the CFIA means that the Canadian aquaculture industry can now include QRILL Aqua in fish feeds.

Aker BioMarine said QRILL Aqua functions as a feeding stimulant that leads to increased feed uptake and enhanced growth, as well as improved health and performance, among marine fish and salmon.

A useful but suspect additive

Ethoxyquin was authorised in the European Union as a feed additive for all animal species and categories until 2017, for its antioxidant properties. In addition, it is used to prevent spontaneous combustion of fish meal during transportation by sea.

Earlier this year, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) reassessed ethoxyquin and could not conclude on its safety for certain groups of animals, consumers and the environment.

The presence of p-phenetidine, an impurity which remains in the additive after the manufacturing process and is a possible mutagen (i.e., likely to cause mutations in the genetic material of animals and humans) meant that the experts of EFSA’s Panel on Additives and Products or Substances used in Animal Feed could not rule out risks to animals with a long-life expectancy and those reared for reproduction. By contrast, the additive is considered safe for animals that are reared for meat production such as chicken, pigs, cattle, rabbits and fish.

Source: EFSA

The Norwegian company modified elements of its krill meal manufacturing process in 2018, which resulted in the removal of ethoxyquin as an antioxidant. Aker BioMarine said it also developed a unique vacuum-packing method to secure the krill meal in large, oxygen-free packaging directly on board the fishing vessel.

“We now package our krill meal product under modified atmospheric conditions. We remove the oxygen from the produce and flush it with nitrogen, which then eliminates the need for ethoxyquin. The addition of nitrogen to the process required a new evaluation from the CFIA to show that nitrogen had zero effect on the nutritional values, quality, or stability of the krill meal,” said Sigve Nordrum, Aker BioMarine’s executive vice president for animal health and nutrition.

Canada is now the last of Aker BioMarine’s markets to approve ethoxyquin-free product, and with the new approval from CFIA, the company has converted all of its production lines to the new technology.

“We appreciate the thorough process with the CFIA and its seal of approval for our krill meal product. QRILL Aqua continues to grow in its standing as an important, functional ingredient for marine fish, and we have large customers in Canada who have been eagerly awaiting the import of krill meal into the country once again,” said Aker BioMarine chief executive Matts Johansen.