“Obviously it is regrettable that this has happened but it is a problem we have never seen before and it has nothing to do with the wider Danish fish oil industry,” said Anne Mette Bæk Jespersen, director of the Danish Fish Oil and Fish Meal Association (DFOFMA).
"We are a clean industry."
DFOFMA has four members: Skagen along with Hanstholm, Havsbrun (Faroe Islands) and ‘999’. Bæk Jespersen said the organisation would discuss the Skagen case at a board meeting in September.
“This is a very serious situation but we are happy with the way Skagen has responded to it.”
She said no decision about Skagen’s membership had been reached.
MD on the hook
The case erupted this month when it was revealed that Skagen was under an ongoing police investigation over economically motivated adulteration that had been detected by Danish authorities.
Skagen has laid the blame with managing director, Morten Broberg, who has been sacked and would not comment on the record when we contacted him last week.
Two other unnamed companies are involved, believed to be a transporter and a retailer.
Skagen said 3200t of residues from oils intended for human use had been mixed into material destined for the fish meals market over three years, unbeknownst to it.
The police investigation is not likely to conclude until the end of the year.
“The company will immediately start purification of the amount of fish oil under suspicion for containing the residue,” Skagen said in a statement previosuly.
Board director Jens Borup said: “We are very sorry that we have disappointed our customers. We will now do our utmost to make sure that the regain the trust in us.”
The International Fishmeal and Fish Oil Organisation (IFFO) has suspended its ‘IFFO standard for Responsible Supply of fishmeal and fish oil’ certification of Skagen’s facility.
Director general Andrew Mallison told us Skagen should be commended for facing up to the fraud, but said Skagen’s membership was under discussion.
Under European Union law those type of residues that typically contain ethyl esters, urea and alcohol are only permitted for ‘technical uses’ like bio-fuels, paints or leather treatments.
One observer suggested such residues may be permitted for use in animal nutrition in Danish law, if not EU law, further complicating the situation.
The adulteration was detected by the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration (DVFA) which said it was continuing to investigate.
Skagen earned €3.33m in before tax profits in 2012.