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Environmental Concerns over Zinc in Feed

27 December 2012

EU - While expressing no concerns to consumers over the use of zinc oxide as a feed additive, an expert panel of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has concluded that there is a potential environmental concern related to groundwater, drainage and the run-off of zinc to surface water.

Following a request from the European Commission, the EFSA Panel on Additives and Products or Substances used in Animal Feed (FEEDAP) was asked to deliver a scientific opinion on the safety and efficacy of zinc oxide when used as feed additive for all animal species.

The FEEDAP Panel concluded that zinc oxide is a safe source of zinc for all animal species, considering the maximum contents for total zinc in feedingstuffs set by EU legislation.

No concerns for consumer safety are expected from the use of zinc oxide in animal nutrition when used up to the EU maximum authorised level in feed.

Zinc oxide is not an irritant to skin and eyes; it is not a skin sensitiser. The zinc oxide under application is considered a compound with high dusting potential, which may result in a critical exposure of users by inhalation, affecting the respiratory system.

The authorised use of zinc oxide as a feed additive does not pose a direct concern for the agricultural soil compartment. However, there is a potential environmental concern related to groundwater, drainage and the run-off of zinc to surface water.

Acid sandy soils are most vulnerable to these processes. In order to draw a final conclusion, some further refinement to the assessment of zinc-based feed additives in livestock needs to be considered, for which additional data would be required. The use of zinc-containing additives in aquaculture up to maximum authorised zinc level in feeds was not expected to pose an appreciable risk to the environment.

Zinc oxide is efficacious in meeting animal zinc requirements.

The FEEDAP Panel made some recommendations (i) on the specification of zinc oxide, and (ii) on the direct incorporation of zinc oxide into compound feedingstuffs.

Further Reading

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