SALEM, Ore. —Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife managers learned yesterday that additional hatcheries received potentially tainted fish food from a Canadian supplier, the Skretting Company. Skretting recalled the suspect product on May 8.
As a result of this new information, ODFW hatchery managers have immediately discontinued using the additional recalled feed and have begun an inventory of all feed on hand at ODFW hatcheries and facilities.
“We share and are sensitive to people’s health and safety concerns, and that is why we’re taking these necessary steps,” said Steve Williams, the department’s deputy Fish Division administrator.
“Based on our initial review it does not appear that any legal-sized rainbow trout from our hatcheries were fed any of the recalled product. However, we are working with the Oregon Department of Agriculture to test a sampling of fish that received the Skretting feed to determine if they contain melamine and in what levels,” said Williams.”
In addition, ODFW staff is in the process of obtaining certification from all fish feed manufacturers to verify that it is free from melamine contamination.
This complete list of hatcheries that were shipped the recalled feed is:
Sandy, Willamette, Cole Rivers, Oak Springs, Oxbow, Salmon River, Butte Falls, Cascade, Wizard Falls, Marion Forks, Bonneville, Leaburg, South Santiam, Bandon, Elk River, Rock Creek, Fall River, Nehalem, Trask, McKenzie, Gnat Creek, Umatilla, Cedar Creek, Klamath, Looking Glass and Big Creek.
The feed in question is primarily a starter feed fed to juvenile salmon and trout. It typically would be used only for a few weeks before the fish are put on a different feed formula - eventually the fish are released to be caught by anglers.
“I want to emphasize that none of the fish appear to have any ill effects and there are no plans to destroy any of the fish,” said Williams.
The Food and Drug Administration has stated there is no significant human health risk associated with consuming the fish. Recently, the USDA and the FDA in a joint statement announced the findings of a scientific risk assessment which concluded there is very low risk to human health from consuming meat from hogs and chickens known to have been fed animal feed supplemented with pet food scraps that contained melamine and melamine-related compounds. Today, in an update, the FDA reported the consumption of fish was included in the assessment.
According to Food and Drug Administration officials, there is no significant human-health risk associated with consuming these fish and are not calling for changes in the way people eat, order or shop for meat or fish as a result of the melamine finding. The FDA recently determined that pork and chicken fed melamine tainted feeds are safe for human consumption.
"We do not believe this poses any significant human-health threat," said David Acheson, a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) commissioner.
But he said the agency would be sampling fish that received the Skretting feed to determine if the fish contain melamine.
FDA has recently validated a method to detect melamine in fish and plans to sample fish that may have consumed the suspect feed. Melamine is water soluble and is not believed to accumulate in fish. FDA believes if they do detect it in the fish, it they will not be present in significant amounts.
According to the FDA, melamine — unlike other chemicals such as mercury — does not accumulate in the fish’s body and is rapidly excreted. Therefore, it is not expected to be found in significant amounts in fish.
“We’re taking a measured approach and working in close cooperation with the Oregon Department of Agriculture and the FDA to address this situation and allay public concern,” said Williams.
The Oregon Department of Agriculture is responsible for regulating commercial fish feed, food safety, and other animal feed distributed in Oregon. ODA has been working with FDA on the investigation of melamine-contaminated ingredients.
As additional information is confirmed, updates will be provided and posted at http://www.dfw.state.or.us/news/fish_food_advisory.asp.