Global Bugs

Monthly Archive: September 2016

Enterra gets Canadian regulatory backing for insect larvae in chicken feed

Canada’s Enterra Feed Corporation has received regulatory approval for use of its whole dried Black Soldier Fly (BSF) larvae as a feed ingredient for poultry broilers.

“We can now offer a renewable protein alternative to those companies manufacturing and retailing chicken feed,” said Victoria Leung, marketing and operations manager for Enterra.

The approval from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) comes after four years of work, said the Vancouver based insect protein producer.

The CFIA evaluated its dossier in terms of a novel feed ingredient; the assessment included a review of product safety for livestock, workers, food and the environment, along with data analysis.

In the US, the Ingredients Definition Committee of the Association of American Feed Control Officials (AAFCO) accepted Enterra’s application to use dried BSF larvae in salmonid feed earlier this year.

The definition was reviewed and agreed to by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the first time a federal regulatory body in North America accepted the use of an insect based ingredient as a source of energy and protein for use in animal feed.

Antoine Hubert, president of the International Platform of Insects for Food and Feed (IPIFF), welcomed the regulatory development: “It is a significant step forward for the development of our industry,” he told us.

Enterra said it is working with the CFIA and FDA for approval for the use of whole BSF larvae in other feeds as well, including poultry layers, trout and salmon, and is also developing a meal with 60% protein content and oil derived from the BSF larvae.

Feeding insects

Enterra rears BSF larvae on pre-consumer food waste such as fruits, vegetables, stale bread, grains, and retail store waste that it said would otherwise go to landfill, composting or waste-to-energy operations where the food nutrient value would be lost.

Dried BSF Larvae are comprised of 40% protein and 40% fat on a dry matter basis (dmb), with an ideal inclusion level in finished feed of 15-30%, said the producer, which has its processing facility in Langley.

The larvae are a source of essential amino acids, and compare favorably to animal-derived ingredients such as poultry by-product meal and fishmeal, it added.

The fat fraction of the larvae is said to consist of highly metabolizable fats, including 55% saturated fat, 30% monounsaturated fatty acids, 15% polyunsaturated fatty acids (Omega 3, 6 and 9) <1% free fatty acid.

Relative to other feeder insects, the company said dried BSF larvae are a good source of high availability macro-minerals, including digestible calcium. They also have a moisture content of less than 10%, water activity of 0.5 and a shelf life of at least 12 months.

And to ensure the dried BSF larvae adhere to high quality and safety standards specified in CFIA, FDA, and EU regulatory regimes, Enterra said its production lots are routinely analyzed for heavy metals, mycotoxins, PCBs, dioxins, E. coli, Salmonella and total microbial load.

Joint venture in Switzerland

Last June saw the Canadian company form a joint venture with Swiss insect protein producer, Entomeal.

The plan was to leverage that company’s local expertise to set up a commercial scale insect-rearing facility in Europe using black soldier fly larvae.

The construction of that plant, located in Kerzers in the canton of Freiburg, is said to be underway. It will use primarily waste vegetables and fruits from local farming and food processing activities.

The partnership plans to produce a meal product, which has been approved for use in Switzerland as an ingredient for aquaculture; a concentrated oil product also used as a feed ingredient in aquaculture, poultry farming, and animal feed preparations; and an organic fertilizer product.

EU regulatory developments

Meanwhile, industry sources told us they expect more visibility in September on the process related to the approval of insect meal use in fish feed in Europe.

Insect protein, together with other non-ruminant proteins such as poultry derived sources, seemed to have been given the green light for use in aquaculture in the EU in June 2013.

However, the condition for using non-ruminant proteins for feeding non-ruminant farmed animals, as per Annex IV to Regulation (EC) No 999/2001, is the killing of the animals in an official registered slaughterhouse.

For insects it is technically difficult to comply with this condition, thus preventing their use in fish farming.

The industry insider said he expects the EU Commission’s Directorate General for health and consumer safety, DG Santé, to publish a draft amendment in September lifting the slaughterhouse amendment blocking the use of non-ruminant insect protein in aquaculture.

Source: FeedNavigator
By Jane Byrne 21-Jul-2016
Last updated on 21-Jul-2016 at 17:27 GMT

Eating bugs is the protein source of the future, so get used to it

In my hand is potentially the greatest post-workout food ever found. It contains every amino acid under the sun, is 70 percent protein, contains almost no fat and is high in iron, calcium, vitamin B12 and fibre.

You may think I’m describing the latest form of protein powder or muscle bar, but what I’m holding is a bug, a single cricket to be precise – and it just may be the muscle-building food of the future.

Humans have been eating bugs for as long as we’ve been eating. If it crawled, buzzed or burrowed around our homes, it’s bound to have ended up in our mouths – but thanks to the rise of airborne disease carried by insects like cockroaches, eating bugs has fallen out of favour.

Spend some time aboard however, and you’ll see that our aversion to eating creepy crawlies is strictly a Western one: in Vietnam they snack on grasshoppers when drinking beer, in Thailand they sizzle up tiny woodworms with noodles, and in Cambodia a deep-fried tarantula is a delicacy reserved only for special guests.

Hell, even in our backyard indigenous Australians have been tucking into witchetty grubs (essentially a form of large, wriggling maggot) since time immemorial.

And now, thanks to our ever-insatiable thirst for foods that are “ancient” and “mystic” (just think about any superfood you’ve seen in the last three years), Western society is back onto bugs.

Jane Abma is co-founder of a company called Primal Collective that packages and sells roasted crickets. She believes that the potential – and need – for us to eat bugs is higher than ever before.

“We believe insects are the protein of the future,” Abma tells Coach.

“People all over the world (particularly South-East Asia and Central America) enjoy insects as part of their everyday diet, so it’s not as crazy as it sounds.”

Bugs are a nutritional powerhouse

Of course it wouldn’t make sense to eat insects if they didn’t a) taste fantastic or b) give you so much nutrition that you couldn’t ignore them.

While the taste verdict is still out to pasture, the nutritional side of creepy crawlies makes them more deserving of a superfood title than any other hyped berry or herb.

Take crickets for example – in just a 5g serving (roughly a teaspoon’s worth of little legs and wings) there’s 2.9 grams of protein – enough to make any bodybuilder’s eyebrows perk up with interest. It’s this muscle-building potential that’s really fuelling the buggy banquet movement amongst fitness fanatics.

“As far as percentage protein goes, crickets are very high: 68 percent, in fact,” Abma tells us.

“Eating bugs is definitely blowing up in areas like in the US — in the last few years we’ve seen products like cricket protein bars and powders come onto the market, more recently in Australia.”

“We are finding that there is an increasing number of people trying to source higher hits of protein, or more sustainable options (or both).”

Speaking of sustainability…

Have a think about where your last source of protein came from. It may have been eggs with breakfast, chicken for lunch or even a hearty steak for dinner. All of these things require livestock, which require farms – and a lot of food, water and land.

As Abma explains, while eating crickets sounds pretty gross, it’s actually pretty environmentally friendly.

“Crickets in particular are far more sustainable than other protein sources such as beef, salmon or chicken,” says Abma.

“For example, to make one kilo of crickets you need about one litre of water, versus 22,000 litres for the equivalent of beef.”

“Crickets require about six times less feed and produce 80 percent less greenhouse gasses than cows, adding to the list of benefits for the future of our environment.”

What about the yuck factor? You (surprisingly) get over it pretty quickly

After tasting the crickets ourselves here in the Coach office, the verdict is amazingly “normal”: once you get over the fact that you’re eating bugs, they’re surprisingly easy to eat, and taste a little bit like the crumbs at the bottom of a chip packet.

As Abma explains, because the crickets have been roasted, there’s no squirting abdomens or thoraxes exploding in your mouth and spraying bug guts all over your teeth.

“We’ve had a lot of great (and hilarious) feedback via social media and from people at health events trying them out at our booths,” says Abma.

“I think after they get over the fact that yes, it’s an insect and yes, it’s whole and there are legs and wings involved, they are pleasantly surprised by the crispy crunch and nutty flavour.”

“There’s also no green juice or guts spilling out, which is what a lot of people panic about.”

Source: http://coach.nine.com.au/2016/08/17/16/03/why-we-should-all-be-eating-bugs

By Stuart Marsh

Research looks at safe sustainable use of insects

Dutch feed company ForFarmers is participating in a research project from Wageningen UR, the Netherlands aiming to guarantee the quality of insects for use in animal feed and/or human food. The researchers are looking at, for example, any possible build-up and/or secretion of chemicals by insects following the use of new raw materials in insectfeed.

The use of insects in animal feed and human food can be a sustainable alternative to other sources of protein and fat. Especially when certain supermarket residues (out of date products) can be used to feed and grow the insects on. However, legislation doesn’t not always permit to use these waste products as feed ingredients.

The goal of this project is to grow insects safely using these waste streams. In particular, the study will look at whether there is any possible accumulation of some micronutrients or secretion of certain compounds by the insects. The potential is for insects to either be consumed directly by humans or used as a feed ingredient which is high in protein and oil so particularly useful in young animal feed. This could lead to a highly sustainable source of quality protein.

Partners

Besides ForFarmers and Wageningen UR, partners in this study are the insect producers Proti-Farm R&D BV, Protix Biosystems and Koppert Biological Systems. ForFarmers participates in this project by offering knowledge and experience in the field of feed consumption. In addition to contributions from these companies, the project is being financed by the Ministry of Economic Affairs in the Netherlands through the AgriFood Top Sector.

Source: AllAboutFeed

 

Are venture capitalists buying into bugs as food?

As it gathers increasing attention, is the edible insect market really worth the hype—at least from a financial perspective?

You only need to look at Bloomberg, Fortune, the LA Times and even TED talks to see how this emerging market is gaining momentum. Yet very little capital has found its way into circulation.

It is hard to judge how well the insect market is doing due to limited sales data and wildly differing market surveys. But we have some information here that might shed some light.

The edible insect market occupies three categories: insect farming, food processing and insect retail. Research firm Global Market Insight (GMI) states that while insect farms will have strong leverage as the market matures, it is more likely that processing plants and end-product sales will have a stronger position.

Akiva Katz, managing director of Leopard Ventures, a venture capitalist, says that farming and processing plants will have weight in the distribution channel. Indeed, both of these will have recovered their costs and be earning decent profits by the time retail sees any corresponding success.

Most farms tend to be small, independent and not automated, though the biggest edible insect farm in the world, the Canadian Entomo farm, along with some Chinese factory farms, are trying to industrialise their processes.

Some investors, like Katz, believe that insect-based powder will be more attractive because it is versatile and can be sold to other companies, giving more opportunities for bug flours on the market. Farms and wholesale buyers should also work more closely, he says, because such a combination should offset high prices.

Bugs are now sold mostly through e-commerce. For now, without sales data and proof that bug products can sell quickly, retailers do not seem willing to take the risk of fill valuable shelf space with edible insects.

But I wonder if online shops provide the right format for selling insects as food. Consumers may need the right context and the comfort of a place they trust and consider safe, like a bricks-and-mortar environment, to buy something as novel as bugs.

Analysts predict a wide spread of growth over coming years. According to GMI, the bug market will see 40% annualised growth expected in coming years, with global revenues exceeding US$520m by 2023.

Arcluster, on the other hand, concludes that the global bug market will reach a value of US$1.5bn by 2021. Persistence Market Research weighs in in between, forecasting global revenues of US$723m.

Despite the spread, these predictions look promising, so is the time really ripe for investors to sink their money into edible insects?

For now, only a few insect startups have raised significant amounts of money. Some have tried the crowdfunding approach—Six Foods, for example, raised US$70,000 in this way, and Chapul, which manufactures energy bars, received US$16,000 (and a further US$50,000 from TV show Shark Tank).

Some got the support of venture capitalists, as in the case California’s Tiny Farms, which is known to have received funding from different sources, including Investors Circle, Drew Fink and Arielle Zuckerberg, sister of the Facebook founder, for an undisclosed amount.

Exo Protein, of course, is the richest in the insect field thanks to the US$4m it received in a Series investment round.

But for some VCs it might be too early. “New edible insect businesses are a bit ahead of their time” is the common sentiment, says Justas Rinkevicius, co-founder of the British food accelerator, Cinnamon Bridge, though he recognises that entomophagy is a “radical approach” in response to the predicted animal-protein shortage.

“The ‘fear factor’ feeling puts edible insect start-ups in highly niche category and ‘niche’ is not the word that investors want to hear,” says Justas, who has seen the number of edible insect start-ups that apply for his acceleration programme double over the last year.

“It gives an indication that the consumers are trying to fill in the gap in the market themselves and all it takes now is for one of the rock star businesses, such as Exo or Tiny Farms, to reach the right scale to accelerate investors’ trust in funding edible insect suppliers globally.”

Katz advises that a better strategy for entering this market would be to start with insects as pet-food or animal feed before moving to humans. There is less “yuck factor” involved, and the benefits are equally nutritional, he says.

Arcluster’s research conveys that the key market in the insect category may be powder or flour, such as cricket flour, which is expected to grow by a factor of 30 over the next five years.

As the future of food meets food tech, the bug market will develop increasingly more efficient sources of protein with impressive nutritional profiles for humans and pets alike.

Scholars and the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation agree that the human population cannot be supported by traditional protein sources. Many studies show that edible insects are not just another alternative way of eating or fad.

“The growth of alternative proteins in undeniable, however there’s still a hesitation around insects as food in the US,” says Douglas Raggio, managing director of Gastronome Ventures, another venture capitalist.

“Perhaps a branding effort is in order with a focus on the benefits and not simply that it’s derived from insects would benefit the entire category. Take a page from the wine and seafood playbook.”

Consumers are slowly becoming aware of bugs as food, thanks to the social media buzz and the large amount of press articles on the subject. “I looked at the alternative protein space, especially the insect based, and there is a clear argument for it,” says Erich Sieber, partner at Inventages|Bluefields Partners.

“The key question is who can break through the consumer mental barrier. I think it will happen, but it will take time and resources.”

Though some countries are not following that resolution, like the UK, The Netherlands and Belgium, the European Union decision to allow edible insects from January 2018 is slowing down the development of the market.

Still, “there is an observable rise in the importance of alternative protein that drives improved and sustainable nutrition and edible insects punches above its weight in this category,” says Arun Nirmal, research director at Arcluster.

Lux Research forecasts follow the same direction. They predicted the alternative protein sources potentially claiming up to a third of the protein market by 2054. The edible insect industry development might be slow, but it will be big.

Source: http://mobile.foodnavigator-asia.com/Business/Are-venture-capitalists-buying-into-bugs-as-food

Insects and algae top the line-up in future feed ingredients for pigs

Feed sourced from insects such as maggots and fly larvae could be a standard diet for pigs by 2020, says a UK nutrition expert.

Algae could also provide a cost effective and sustainable source of protein for the sector, said Mick Hazzledine, who heads of the pig business side of UK supplier, Premier Nutrition.He was speaking at the Bpex Innovation Conference 2014 in the UK at the end of June, which had pig feed innovation as one of its themes.

The pig nutrition expert told this publication today: “The protein in a number of algal and insect proteins is very digestible and it has an excellent amino acid profile. Indeed some of them have as high a protein value as fishmeal.”

Soy alternatives

Hazzledine said the biggest challenge for the UK and EU pig sector is to try a find a long-term alternative to soy, as the EU is highly dependent on imports.

“This is not easy as soy has an excellent digestible amino acid profile, a high nutrient concentration, and low level of anti-nutritive factors. There are no cost effective alternatives at the moment for younger pigs, in particular,” he said.

Hazzledine said the Dutch are championing the use of insect meal in animal diets.

The Netherlands-based feed manufacturer, Coppens, has recently signed a deal with a Dutch cultivator of insects, Protix Biosystems, to include insect meal in its feed materials when legislation allows, said Hazzledine.

Protix said it expects insect-sourced protein to be approved by the EU Commission by next summer.

Coppens is reported to have pre-ordered 200 tons of insect fat along with 300 tons of insect protein from the black soldier fly.

Future pig feeds

Hazzledine has also been looking at a number of other raw materials that could be fed to pigs in the future, particularly to offset the environmental challenges associated with pig production.

As well as insects and algae, he has been evaluating legumes, processed animal protein (PAP) rapeseed meal and yeast, among others as potential protein sources.

There are lots of EU-funded research projects underway looking to expand production of peas, beans and lupins.

But, he said, while such crops are perfectly acceptable as a feed ingredient for pigs – equating in terms of nutritive value to about 80% barley and 20% soya meal – the problem is that the yield just isn’t high enough. “We need an increase in yield of as much as 40% to make them cost effective,” said Hazzledine.

Improving nutritive value of rapeseed

More research is also needed, he said, in terms of rapeseed meal:

“Plant breeding takes a long time and we are unclear as to which of the components of rape we need to concentrate on to improve its nutritive value to the greatest extent. We don’t understand the toxic components, particularly glucosinolates, well enough.”

Feed additives derived from yeast are now widely available.

“They are probably most widely used in ruminants but, over the last five years in particular, trials in pigs and poultry have shown improvements in performance such as higher litter size with sows and better immune response,” said Hazzledine.

In terms of the wider use of non-ruminant PAP in pig feeds, once legislation allows it, Hazzledine said that would be curtailed by industry resistance to materials such as porcine plasma.

“Some stakeholders believe the current porcine epidemic diarrhea (PED) virus outbreak in North America may be related to feeding porcine plasma to pigs, raising concerns about the potential of disease transmission to pigs through feed. “

Source: Food Navigator
By Jane Byrne 11-Jul-2014
Last updated on 15-Jul-2014 at 08:59 GMT

FARMED SALMON IS ONE OF THE MOST TOXIC FOODS IN THE WORLD.

If you ask the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) which fish is the most toxic, they’ll say that it’s farmed Salmon. In fact, the EPA recommends that you not eat more than one meal of farmed salmon per month.

However, it’s one of the most dangerous recommendations.
It’s important to understand that farm raised fish of ALL species can spell disaster for your health in a number of ways. First of all, fish were never meant to eat corn, grains, or poultry and pork for that matter. In addition, farmed fish of all species are also given a dangerous concoction of vitamins, antibiotics, and depending on the fish, and synthetic pigments.

Farmed Salmon – One of the Most Toxic Foods in the World

Shockingly, research finds that the most abundant source of toxic exposure is not actually the pesticides or the antibiotics, but the dry pellet feed! Pollutants found in the fish feed include dioxins, PCBs, and a number of different drugs and chemicals. These ccontaminants cause =permanent damage to the organism and is associated with autism, ADHD, disorders of the immune system and the endocrine system.
According to Dr. Monsen, a prominent biologist:
“I do not recommend pregnant women, children or young people eat farmed salmon. It is uncertain in both the amount of toxins salmon contain, and how these drugs affect children, adolescents and pregnant women… The type of contaminants that have been detected in farmed salmon have a negative effect on brain development and is associated with autism, ADD / ADHD and reduced IQ. We also know that they can affect other organ systems in the body’s immune system and metabolism.”

Omega-3 Levels in Farmed Salmon Is Nearly Half of That in Wild Salmon

According to the International Fishmeal and Fish Oil Organization (IFFO), today’s farmed fillet may contain as little as half of the omega-3s as it did less than a decade ago. This is because farmed salmon are now feasting on byproducts of hog and poultry processing, soybeans and soybean oil, canola oil, corn and other grain instead of small wild fish high in omega-3s.

Farmed Salmon Can Cause Cancer

Did you know that eating more than one meal of farm-raised salmon per month can increase your risk of developing cancer in the future due to the increased levels of chemicals and antibiotics?

Farm-raised salmon contain PCB which are cancer-causing chemicals at a concentration 16 times higher than wild salmon, and the level of dioxin is also higher, by a factor of 11 fold.

Additionally, farmed salmon provides your body with higher levels of inflammation producing omega-6 fatty acids. Inflammation leads to many diseases including cancer, diabetes, arthritis, coronary artery disease and even Alzheimer’s.
Banned Synthetic Astaxanthin

Farmed salmon get filled full of synthetic astaxanthin that no government has ever approved for human consumption. The feed given to farmed fish is a dull gray color. This potentially harmful variety of astaxanthin is used to make salmon flesh look more of a pink color so humans who eat farmed salmon will be fooled into believing they are eating real wild fish.

Did you know that Farmed Salmon:

are fed pellets of chicken feces, corn meal, soy, genetically modified canola oil and other fish containing concentrations of toxins
have seven times the levels of PCB’s as wild salmon
have 30 times the number of sea lice
are fed toxic chemicals to give them color
are given antibiotics at higher levels than any other livestock
have less omega 3’s due to lack of wild diet
are susceptible to more disease
When you go to a restaurant and order salmon off the menu, make sure it says wild salmon. If the menu does not say, it is farmed. Farming salmon makes it much more affordable as wild salmon prices about as much as a high end cut of beef. When trying to make healthy dinner choices for your family, choose land animals or wild salmon. Your family will thank you for it later.

Source: www.thehealthology.com

Insect meals could replace up to 100% of conventional protein source in animal feeds, say researchers

Black soldier fly larvae are emerging as a promising animal feed source.
Insect meals could potentially replace between 25 and 100% of the soymeal or fishmeal in animal feeds, according to a new meta-study that has been accepted for publication in Animal Feed Science and Technology.

Food security concerns have highlighted a need to find more sustainable sources of protein for use in animal feeds. Insects are increasingly being recognised as a potential substitute for conventional sources. Many insect species are highly nutritious and their production has less environmental impact compared with traditional sources of animal protein.

The researchers, led by Harinder Makkar of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), conducted a review of existing research on the five major inspect species that are emerging as potential animal feed products: black soldier fly, mealworm, locusts, grasshoppers and crickets, housefly maggots and silkworms.

High flyers

Black soldier fly larvae emerged as the most promising source, capable of replacing soymeal in poultry and pig diets.

“However, more in-depth studies are required to optimise its levels of inclusion, and at its high levels of inclusion to also optimize the levels of deficient amino acid supplementation,” wrote the researchers.

In laying hens, maggots could replace up to 50% of fishmeal without any adverse effects, suggested the researchers. For broilers, up to 10% soymeal or fishmeal could be replaced with maggots or mealworm, when supplemented with methionine.

Grasshoppers emerged as an interesting protein source for broilers, as they result in a number of meat quality parameters, such as higher antioxidant potential, longer shelf life, increased protein and decreased cholesterol content.

Silkworm could be a promising feed resource for cattle, owing to its low rumen degradability, reported the researchers. They said that in fattening diets of Jersey calves, defatted silkworm meal could replace 33% of groundnut cake without affecting performance, and that experiments in growing and finishing pigs how shown that defatted silkworm meal could replace 100% of soymeal or fishmeal.

Peak protein content

The researchers reported that the crude protein contents of these alternate sources were high, varying from 42-63%, which is comparable with soymeal. After defatting, the crude protein content in insect meals is expected to be higher than that of soymeal.

“Some insect meals, for example, black soldier fly larvae, housefly maggot meal, mealworm, silkworm, contain as much as 36% oil, which can be isolated and used for the preparation of biodiesel, and the rest of the defatted meal could find a place as a protein-rich resource in the feed industry,” wrote the researchers.

They said that defatted insect meals would be an ideal choice for ruminants as the presence of high levels of lipids in the meals can decrease fibre digestion in the rumen.

Enough amino acids?

The researchers concluded that “overall levels of essential amino acids in insect meals are good; most essential amino acid levels in silkworm pupae meal and black soldier fly larvae being higher than in soymeal or the FAO reference protein.”

They suggested that a 50:50 mixture of black soldier fly larvae and housefly maggot meals would provide a balanced amino acid composition for use in livestock feed as soymeal replacers.

Levels of arginine – an essential amino acid for laying hens – in all insect meals were found to be lower than in soymeal, suggesting that diets of hens fed insect meal would have to be supplemented with arginine.

Calcium supplementation necessary

Calcium is important for poultry, pigs and milk producing cattle. Whilst black solder larvae are rich in calcium (7.56%), calcium levels for other insect meals were found to be very low, meaning that calcium supplementation would be required if they were used in animal feed.

Large scale production

In order for insect meals to be a significant part of the animal diets produced by the feed industry, the researchers said there was a need for cost effective, mass insect rearing facilities, a regulatory framework and sanitation procedures for safe use of bio-wastes and managing diseases, heavy metals and pesticides.

They also called for more studies evaluating insect meals as livestock feed, life cycle studies to measure the environmental impact of using insects as animal feed and data on the feed conversion efficiency of various insects, to make informed decisions.

Source: Animal Feed Science and Technology

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.anifeedsci.2014.07.008

Edible insect farms creep closer to reality in Europe

The EU is exploring the viability of fly larvae as a livestock food source. Dr Elaine …
The EU is exploring the viability of fly larvae as a livestock food source. Dr Elaine Fitches, PROteINSECT project co-ordinator, with a BBC film crew. (Credit: Reproduced with permission PROteINSECT) View gallery (3 images)

As many have discovered, insects can be a delicious, not-at-all-creepy food source that could save us all from a looming global protein deficit. The good news is that the main objection to raising insects for food and livestock feed – that it poses insurmountable chemical and biological health risks – has been tentatively ruled out by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which says edible insects appear to pose no more of a chemical or biological hazard than any other form of livestock farming.

In preparing their report, EFSA researchers drew data from peer reviewed scientific studies from France, the Netherlands and Belgium to create a risk profile identifying the potential biological, chemical and environmental hazards associated with farmed insects. According to the report, the presence of these hazards would depend on production methods, the substrate (the food the insects are raised on), the lifecycle stage at which the insects are harvested, the insect species and methods of further processing.

The report also considered the potential hazards if the insects are fed on kitchen waste and animal manure. It found that as long as the substrate does not include protein derived from human waste or ruminants, the presence of abnormal proteins that can cause diseases such as BSE (aka mad cow disease) in cattle is expected to be reduced.

The report concluded that the potential risks of producing, processing and consuming insects as a food source are much the same as other forms of animal husbandry, and the environmental risks are expected to be comparable.

Of course, there are still a lot of uncertainties related to animal and human consumption of insects and the report makes it clear that there just isn’t enough data at this stage to conclusively state that all the risks can be managed. The buildup of chemicals such as heavy metals or arsenic is one possible risk that will need to be studied.

The European Commission will now to review the data and decide whether to go ahead with an EC-funded project, PROteINSECT, which would further examine the safety and viability of farming fly larvae as livestock feed.

The “ick factor” may still be stopping insects gaining much traction as a direct food source in wealthier countries, but research shows that the public are generally comfortable with the idea of insects as livestock feed (after all, in our most idyllic visions of farm life, chickens are scratching around in the dirt for earthworms).

Since 2013, PROteINSECT has worked with experts from the EU, China and Africa to research introducing two species of fly larvae into the diets of chickens, pigs and fish. The research has included raising farmed flies on various forms of organic waste, carrying out feeding trials on livestock and aquaculture stock and analyzing the quality and safety of the new food source.

A spokesperson from PROteINSECT partner Minerva Communications UK told New Atlas that the project is now waiting on the EC review.

“Changes to the European legislation concerning the feeding of insects to fish are already being considered and it is expected that a further widening of the debate on legislation on substrate use and insect varieties to be fed to poultry and pigs will follow in the next 18 months or so,” she says. “EFSA will need to conduct a further safety analysis once it has all the data required as stated in its first risk assessment report.”

With global meat demand expected to rise to 72 percent above 2000 levels by 2030, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, a rapid increase in protein sources for animal feed is urgently needed.

The potential for increasing the global cultivated land area is limited, and despite our efforts, many of the major food crops are currently showing only modest gains in yield. So farming insects as a protein source for livestock and freeing up land to grow crops for direct consumption by the human populace could lead to a long-term increase in food security.

“The protein gap in Europe is a very real risk to social, economic and environmental progress,” says PROteINSECT coordinator, Dr Elaine Fitches “As we seek sustainable European long term solutions we must consider the benefits that the introduction of insects – specifically fly larvae – could have on the content of animal feed. PROteINSECT believes these highly effective protein converters offer great potential for Europe to become global contributors to the provision of alternative and additional innovative protein sources.”

The insect species reported to have the greatest potential for use as a food or feed in the EU includes houseflies, mealworms, crickets and silkworms.

The EFSA report is available in the EFSA Journal.

Source: PROteINSECT