Optimization of an oil leaching process to reduce the level of dioxins and dioxin-like PCBs in fishmeal


Correspondence to: Åge Oterhals, Nofima, Kjerreidviken 16, N-51441 Fyllingsdalen, Norway. E-mail: aage.oterhals@nofima.no



Fishmeal produced from fish caught in polluted fishing areas might contain dioxins and dioxin-like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) above maximum permitted levels (MPL) for use in feed. Decontamination of the fishmeal can be achieved by hexane extraction. The principal objective of this study was to optimize a more environmentally friendly alternative based on oil leaching of the moist presscake intermediate product during fishmeal manufacturing.


A central composite design and response surface methodology was used to study the influence of the process variables temperature (T), presscake moisture content (MC) and leaching time (LT) on the decontamination process. A significant squared MC effect was observed, resulting in an optimum leaching rate at 27% MC. This corresponds to 5% improved dibenzo-p-dioxin/dibenzo furan (PCDD/F)–PCB toxic equivalent (TEQ) reduction compared to normal presscake (55% MC). The initial leaching rate was fast, with a TEQ reduction of 69% after only 2 min at 87 °C and 55% MC. Under the best experimental conditions (87 °C, 38% MC, 12 min LT) a TEQ reduction of 82% was achieved. Excess oil in the presscake after the leaching operation could be removed by use of a water washing step. No reduction in protein quality measured by mink digestibility could be observed.


The results confirm that the oil leaching process is robust and offers easily achievable TEQ levels well below present MPLs based on process conditions normally used by the industry. Comparative effects on non-dioxin-like PCBs are expected. © 2012 Society of Chemical Industry