The EU Commission has increased the limit for endosulfan in farmed salmon tenfold. Norway in particular, the world's largest exporter of salmon, was against the previous stricter limit value.
Previously, sales were banned if the fish contained more than 0.005 milligrams of endosulfan per kilogram. Now may contain up to 0.05 milligrams, reports the Austrian daily Standard. The Norwegian Food Authority said that this increase in the limit is of great economic importance for the breeding industry.
The pesticide endosulfan is said to have a negative effect on the endocrine system and to affect human reproductive capacity and fetal development. In southwest India, it has been blamed for cases of deformities and illnesses. It is also believed to have triggered the major fish kill in the Rhine River.
The use of the pesticide is banned in 80 countries around the world. Endosulfan has been on the Stockholm Convention list since 2011. As a result, a worldwide ban on production and use is gradually coming into force.
The move would have no impact on consumer health, the EU said. That's because the acceptable daily dose is 0.006 milligrams per kilogram of body weight, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
This means that a person weighing 60 kilograms can consume 0.36 milligrams of endosulfan per day. Even if the fish were actually contaminated with 0.05 milligrams per kilogram, this adult could eat 7.2 kilograms of fish per day.
Waltraud Novak from the Austrian environmental organization Global 2000 criticizes the increase in the limit value. The head of the pesticide reduction program said that endosulfan is suspected of disrupting the balance of the endocrine system. It is toxic even in very small quantities. Therefore, the phrase "the dose makes the poison" does not apply here, says Novak. "In truth, one knows too little to even set a limit value."
The Norwegian nutrition institute Nifes, on the other hand, sees no health risks from the increased limits. It even promotes that pregnant women and children should eat more seafood.
Unlike fresh fish, the origin of fish in processed products is often not indicated. "In many processed products, gourmet fillets or pasta with salmon, there is fish whose origin is not declared," said Claudia Sprinz of Greenpeace Austria. The horsemeat scandal had made people aware of how little they knew about processed products.