While the pet food industry worldwide creates headlines due to the use of misbranded and adulterated ingredients, there is a ground-breaking initiative among the main suppliers of marine ingredients to pet food. As the first salmon meal producers in the world, Biomega and Marine Harvest from Norway, and Fiordo Austral from Chile, are now offering authenticity tested salmon meal to their pet food customers. The authenticity has been verified by the Norwegian laboratory company ORIVO (previously named OmegaVeritas), through a independent 3rd party authenticity testing program.
The test, which is the first of its kind, is based on the already established test for salmon oil and other omega-3 oils, and is able to verify species and geographic origin, by confirmation with ORIVO´s database of reference samples. A substantial R&D effort, which partly has been funded by The Norwegian Research Council and Innovation Norway, formed the basis for the test and the database, which originally was established as a the basis for a verification seal for dietary supplements to humans. But now, ORIVO has adopted the methodology to also work for salmon meal. Chief Technology Officer in ORIVO, Erik Fuglseth, explains how:
– We started with a simple hypothesis: Since salmon meal consists of 5-15 % of fat, the idea was to extract this fat, and use this as a fingerprint for the meal. Following an extensive R&D effort with testing and process optimization, it turned out that the method worked just as we had hoped. We now have developed a gentle extraction method that gives us a fat fraction suitable for our authenticity testing protocol.
In addition to this fat based technology, ORIVO has already commenced further development: The goal is to introduce an enhanced DNA based test for pet food ingredients within the next year. With this new tool in hand, ORIVO will be able to offer their verification program to more than just salmon meal suppliers:
– Salmon meal is just one of many highly valued ingredient categories within the pet food market, and the impression we have gotten from the market is that adulterated products is a substantial and growing challenge. This is of course a sad fact, but when for instance salmon meal has a price premium over standard fish meal, there will always be players in the value chain trying to make easy money. We now have a validated system which can help the honest and responsible players in the industry protect their category, says CEO of ORIVO, Svein Erik Haugmo.
Haugmo also values the industry support:
– To have the backing from the majority of the salmon oil/meal producers during the development has been crucial in order to ensure a successful build-up of the verification program. Especially satisfying is it that more than 60 % of the global supply of salmon meal to pet food already is being sold as verified, through our customers Biomega, Marine Harvest and Fiordo Austral.