In 2014, Ioannis Mavromichalis discussed ethoxyquin as an antioxidant frequently added to sources of lipids and complete feeds that contain high levels of fats and oils.
Last week, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) says it is unable to draw a firm conclusion on the safety of ethoxyquin as a feed additive for any target animals, its safety for consumers or the environment.
Antioxidants can only delay the process of oxidation by stabilizing reactive fatty acids, but given enough time, fatty acids will eventually react with available oxygen. Other common antioxidants include butylated hydroxytoluene, citric acid, and vitamins C and E. Antioxidants can only delay the process of oxidation by stabilizing reactive fatty acids, but given enough time, fatty acids will eventually react with available oxygen. Common antioxidants include ethoxyquin, butylated hydroxytoluene, citric acid, and vitamins C and E.
After its assessment, EFSA explained that the reason for its decision is an overall lack of data to assess the safety of the substance, including its metabolites, and the presence of an impurity (p-phenetidine), which is a possible mutagen.
EFSA was asked to re-assess the safety of the feed additive, ethoxyquin, for target animals, consumers, users and the environment under EC Regulation 1831/2003. The substance is used in animal feed for its antioxidant properties and to prevent spontaneous combustion of fish meal during transportation by sea.
Explaining its reservations, EFSA says ethoxyquin itself is considered non-genotoxic. However, it has found that one of the metabolites, ethoxyquin quinone imine, could be genotoxic, i.e. it may damage DNA, indicating a potential safety concern. As a result of the manufacturing process, an impurity remains in this feed additive, p-phenetidine, which is a possible mutagen. Mutagens are substances causing mutations in the genetic material of both animals and humans. Furthermore, even in the absence of the impurity, EFSA identified gaps in the data when assessing the exposure and the safety of ethoxyquin for animals, consumers and the environment.
Oxidation of fats and oils (rancidity) is a natural process: a reaction between unsaturated fatty acids and free oxygen. Certain oils, such as soy and corn oil that are used frequently in animal feeds, are especially rich in unsaturated fatty acids.