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Food Quality and Safety in Europe



The European Commission is striving to ensure that the food chain is risk-free at all stages of production and consumption. One of the specific areas of interest is fish feed used in aquaculture across the European Union. The fish feed used is currently based mainly on fishmeal and fish oil. The participants in the AQUAMAX project are seeking to develop sustainable alternative feed resources, resulting in highly nutritious and health-beneficial farmed fish. The aims of the project include improving contamination detection methods, health benefit assessments for the 'new-diet-based' farmed fish and studies into consumer perception and acceptance.


Aquaculture constitutes an important sector of European economy, with annual growth rates of approximately 5-9%. In fact, the EU aquaculture industry is second only to its Asian counterpart. As growth of the sector continues, minimising the potential health hazards associated with fish products has become more urgent. These hazards pertain primarily to marine-derived toxic contaminants of fishmeal or fish oils, entering the food chain through the fish feeds used routinely on a global scale.

The removal of certain contaminants closely associated with the fishmeal components of fish feed can prove extremely challenging, if not impossible. The objective of AQUAMAX is not to remove contaminants, but rather to avoid use of those ingredients that might be contaminated. This process enhances the overall nutritional value of farmed fish, and results in safer food products. At the molecular level, the new diets that are being developed will ensure compatibility with fish genetic profiles so as to maintain their health and welfare.

Specific DNA monitoring techniques are being employed in order to study growth efficiency and overall performance. In essence, the overarching aim of AQUAMAX is the development of a range of 'tailored' feeds for freshwater and marine fish, which reflect a series of nutritional needs and consumer demands.


The AQUAMAX approach involves initiatives ranging from toxicogenomics and nutrigenomics to a nutritional trial involving pregnant women and infants. The objectives set forth in the project can only be realised through extensive collaboration with a series of partners possessing diverse sets of skills.

Partners from China and India are working alongside academic and SME participants, combining their expertise through studies on the entire food chain, ranging from toxicological investigations to market validation of the new products. The project's impact is therefore significant, contributing to further growth and new employment opportunities for the EU aquaculture industry.

At the same time, AQUAMAX aims to boost consumer confidence in the sector and its products by addressing a number of concerns in an effective and efficient manner. The outcomes of the project are to be disseminated to countries via the International Scientific Cooperation Programme (INCO), through education and knowledge exchange initiatives, with particular emphasis on Asian regions heavily involved in aquaculture. Continuous collaboration and ongoing association is expected to yield substantial benefits for the partners involved in AQUAMAX, as well as their parent organisations, for national agencies, and primarily for the public at large.

List of Partners

  • National Institute of Nutrition and Seafood Research (Norway)
  • Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (France)
  • Institute of Aquaculture, University of Stirling (UK)
  • CSIC Institute of Aquaculture Torre la Sal (Spain)
  • Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (Greece)
  • Research Institute for Fisheries, Aquaculture and Irrigation (Hungary)
  • Biological Research Centre, Hungarian Academy of Sciences (Hungary)
  • Nutreco Aquaculture Research Centre (Norway)
  • Institute of Marine Research (Norway)
  • Indian Council of Agricultural Research (India)
  • Joint Research Centre (Spain)
  • University of Southampton (UK)
  • Institute of Nutrition and Food Safety (China)
  • King's College London (UK)
  • University of Granada (Spain)
  • University of the Auvergne, Clermont-Ferrand (France)
  • University of Uppsala (Sweden)
  • University of Reading (UK)
  • Istituto Superiore di Sanità (Italy)
  • Peipsi Centre for Transboundary Cooperation (Estonia)
  • Selonda Aquaculture (Greece)
  • Halandor (Hungary)
  • G. Barka (Hungary)
  • Alpha Mos (France)
  • WOW Creative Projects (Greece)
  • Landcatch Natural Selection (UK)
  • Technology Crops (UK)
  • Viviers de France (France)
  • Teutoburger Olmuhle (Germany)
  • Caditec (Spain)
  • Marine Harvest International (The Netherlands)
  • Federation of European Aquaculture Producers (Belgium)
Full title:
Sustainable aquafeeds to maximise the health benefits of farmed fish for consumers
Contract n°:
Project co-ordinator:
Oyvind Lie, National Institute of Nutrition and Seafood Research,
EC Scientific Officer:
Mario Lopes Dos Santos,
EU contribution:
€ 10.5M
Integrated Project

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Last update: 06 December 2007 | Top