Global Bugs

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Canadian approval for insects in salmon feed

Enterra Feed Corporation has received approval from the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to sell its Whole Dried Black Soldier Fly Larvae as a feed ingredient for salmonids, including farmed salmon, trout and arctic char.
With this approval, the company is now the first to market and sell this sustainable, natural product to aquaculture feed manufacturers in Canada. This is the first Canadian approval of an insect-based aquaculture feed ingredient, and follows the CFIA’s approval using this same product in feed for chicken broilers last year. Enterra received a similar US approval for use in salmonid feeds in 2016.
Canada is the fourth-largest producer of farmed salmon in the world, according to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. In 2015 the farm gate value (the net value when it leaves the farm) of salmon and trout in Canada was $850 million1.

Digestible and renewable source of protein

“Aquaculture feed producers have been keenly awaiting this approval and we look forward to supplying their needs immediately,” said Andrew Vickerson, Chief Technology Officer, Enterra. “Fish eat insects in their natural environment and our product is a healthy, digestible and renewable source of protein and fat that can replace less sustainable ingredients, including fish meal and soybean meal.”

Production of fish meal, which is a standard aquaculture feed ingredient, can deplete wild ocean fish stocks and is subject to substantial price fluctuations. Soybean meal requires significant agricultural inputs that could otherwise be used more efficiently to grow food for people.

“Insects are a natural source of digestible protein and fat for fish, including salmon and trout,” said Dr Brad Hicks, a veterinarian and partner in Taplow Feeds, an aquaculture feed manufacturer. “This product will contribute to healthy, active fish and is a great alternative feed ingredient.”

Black soldier fly is a beneficial insect

Enterra uses the larvae of the black soldier fly, a beneficial insect species that is highly efficient at upcycling complex nutrients in pre-consumer waste food into an excellent source of protein and fat, perfect for inclusion in feed for fish, poultry, pets and zoo animals. These innovative products offer a sustainable alternative to resource-intensive feed ingredients like fish meal, fish oil, soybean meal, palm kernel oil and coconut oil.

Source: and Enterra.

ACFS push on “cricket” as the new economic insects of Thailand

According to the European Union (EU) has adopted rules Regulation (EU) 2015/2283 with new foods (Novel Food) instead of the existing rules. The regulation also covers new foods, such as foods not consumed in the EU prior to May 15, 1997, local food (Traditional Food) consumed in a third country not less than 25 years, the food component is engineered nanomaterials (Engineered Nanomaterial), including dishes made with insects or insect parts. The adoption of such rules affects the export of food products, especially insects, such as crickets. In Thailand the insects as the new economy have expanded and has raised increasing every year. They are also the foods that get the attention of consumers. Both domestic and abroad extensively due to a highly nutritious, cheap, low cost, and can be processed to add value in a variety of species.

National Bureau of Agricultural Commodity and Food Standards (ACFS) and Delegation of European Union, Khonkaen University and the Office of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) joined the seminar “The new EU regulation for food: The special case of insects” on 26-27 October 2016 by inviting experts from agencies of the EU risk assessment (EFSA) to provide knowledge and understanding about the Novel Food Regulation to manufacturers and operators of Thailand to prepare for the enforcement of such regulations. And encourage farmers and entrepreneurs, accelerate the development of processing and manufacturing products that are safe, according to EU standards. This will increase competitiveness further.

Present ACFS accelerated preparation of the cricket farm and expected to be adopted formally by the year 2017 to support the party because it processed and exported to international cricket. And support the forthcoming Regulation (EU) 2015/2283 which will take effect on January 1, 2560.

On 19 January 2017 our Chief Operations Officer, one of the academic committee, participated the meeting for Good Agricultural Pratice (GAP) for cricket farms standard. Thailand will be the first country in the world where has GAP for cricket farm standard.

Source: and


Exploring the legal status of edible insects around the world

Entomophagy is a new phenomenon in the West, and as a result it is rarely regulated. This leads to public institutions like food agencies, customs and health departments often finding themselves helpless in the face of new product development based on processed insects.

From a geographical point of view, there are three legal trends. First, there are the Anglo-Saxon countries, for whom the American FDA’s stance was enough to allow marketing.
Then there are the non-English-speaking Western countries, and the European Union, in particular, which have felt the need to have rules and provide approvals before allowing any marketing.
Non-Western countries comprise the remaining trend: there, insects are often a traditional food, but rarely packaged and exported or imported.
In these countries, customs and the FDA had never found themselves facing packaged products containing insects, as insects were usually found in the local market, unpackaged. And in the absence of regulations these agencies have sometimes shown inconsistent reactions.
I’ve compiled here a collection of the regulatory position of insects in Western countries. Matters that may be subject to rules are breeding, production, marketing, and import/export. There are cases where the marketing of edible insects is legal, but the import or export is not (for example, Belgium does not accept insects from non-EU countries).
In addition, there is the matter of food legislation, which is often lacking industry standards for insect foods. In particular, insects are not included in the Codex Alimentarius, which contains an international guideline for food safety.
Additions to the Codex will be decided by member nations of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations at their next quadrennial meeting. The move follows a proposal by Laos’s delegation to set up a working group on crickets as food. This is yet to have been written, though, despite the support of other countries in Southeast Asia and the creation of a document on this topic.
Customs offices also often have difficulty in finding reference points. Harmonised system codes decided internationally by the World Customs Organisation for the nomenclature of goods do not contain any definition that refers to insects as food. The creation of new codes can be requested by a member state.
Crickets are not considered as a novel food, and today the largest breeder in North America is located in Canada and serves some local start-ups, including One Hop Kitchen. If, however, an insect lacks a history of safe consumption, it might fall back into the novel food category pending an evaluation by the Bureau of Microbial Hazards in the Food Directorate.

There is no specific set of standards for edible insects in America. The FDA has made public its opinion, which is the current legal basis for the market. To be allowed for market, the insects must have been bred for human consumption. Products containing insects must of course follow the standards required by the FDA including bacteriological tests and good manufacturing practice certification. The label on the product must include the common name and the insect’s scientific name, and note the potential risks of allergy.

Australia and New Zealand
Both nations share an agency for the maintenance of food safety, Fsanz. This agency has addressed some cases like the super mealworm (Zophobas morio), the domestic cricket (Acheta domesticus) and the moth (Tenebrio molitor), deciding that they are not novel foods, even though they cannot be considered traditional foods either. In particular, they have not encountered food safety problems and consequently have not been put to the consumption limits or import.

European Union
According to the European Parliament and the Food Safety Agency, Efsa, insects fall into the “novel foods” category, and consequently are subject to lengthy approval processes.
Four countries do not accept this interpretation and explicitly permit—and in one case, regulate—the marketing and consumption of insects. These are Belgium, Britain, the Netherlands and Denmark.
In some other countries there is a certain degree of tolerance (France, for example). In others, such as Italy and Germany, the tolerance is zero. Because of the complexity (and cost) of the approvals process, no start-up has as yet submitted an application under the novel food regulations.
In a meeting in October 2015, the European Parliament discussed edible insects in connection with a revision of the novel food law, in order to simplify the steps and reduce the timing (sometimes three years) for approval. The new law will come into effect on January 1, 2018. The details on how to submit a dossier were released last September.
EFSA has stated that evidence for the approval of crickets as food can be presented in two different ways. The standard process (the entire procedure for which should take about a year), or one defined as “Traditional food from a third country” (Article 14, law EU in 2283), which is expected to be faster (about six months). However, in this second case, a member country could make an complaint, therefore lengthening the time.
The procedure provides that an individual applies for approval—this could be a single citizen, a company or an institution, either in the EU or outside. If presented with two applications for the same food, the approval is universal. In other words, once the food—for example, the cricket—is approved, it is for everyone’s benefit, including the producers and importers.

The Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain has produced a specific regulation for edible insects which makes Belgium one of the most advanced nations in terms of entomophagy. The FASFC approved ten insects: two types of cricket (Acheta domesticus and Gryllodes Sigillatus), two types of locust, three variants of mealworm, two types of moths (greater wax moth, lesser wax moth) and silkworms. They have specifically detailed rules for breeding and sale, and no insects bred outside of the European Union are accepted.

The Netherlands is home to some mealworm and cricket farms designed to breed for for human consumption. These include the leader, Protifarm (and its subsidiary Kreca), as well as some start-ups active in the marketing and production of edible insects. Its legal basis is not clear, though, and the public body responsible for food safety (NVWA) has refused to comment.

The Danish Veterinary and Food Administration believes that whole insects (including flour, if coming from whole insects) do not fall under the EU novel food legislation. As a result, imports from non-EU countries are theoretically possible.

The control of food in Germany is a task for the 16 federal states. The Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety (BVL) fulfils only some coordination functions, so its position is not legally binding and it is aligned with the EU commission decision: insects or parts of insects are novel food and cannot be sold in Germany until a procedure for novel food approval has been finalised.

Norway is not an EU member, but belongs to the European Economic Area and therefore follows a number of European regulations. Still, their interpretation of edible insects is that when they are whole (as opposed to parts or isolates of insects), they do not fall under the novel food law. This is the position of the food agency,

The Food Safety Agency has shown a favourable position on the sale, consumption and import of edible insects. Insects are also allowed to be used as feed consumption for aquaculture—though not as animal feed. Britain also considers edible insects outside the context of the European regulation on novel foods.
The future is uncertain, though, because of Brexit and the possibility that Britain will have to adhere to EU directions to realign the two on the subject of edible insects from January 2018 (with an extension to 2020 for products already on the market).
Meanwhile, the FSA sent letters to British edible insect start-ups a letter to request information from them in anticipation that a European approval may be required in the coming years.

The Federal Council has worked extensively on the legislation of insects, based on the oversight of Isabelle Chevalley, National Councillor of the Canton of Vaud, who since 2013 has asked the council repeatedly to take a position. In December 2016, the council finally passed a law (which will take effect May 1) allowing the sale and consumption of three species: crickets (Acheta domesticus), migratory locust and mealworm. Among the requirements, the insects must have been bred for human consumption and after slaughter must be treated according to the criteria of food security (high temperatures, freezing, etc.).

Non-western countries
Southeast Asian countries have a tradition of food entomophagy, but do not have regulations relating to the breeding, sale and export of insects. Thailand, the world’s largest breeder of crickets, is working on the creation of a first set of breeding guidelines. The ACFS (Thai government agency for the safety of agricultural products) is also expected to release good agricultural practices guidelines for the breeding of crickets by the end of 2017. A preliminary set of these guidelines for GAP was made public by the University of Khon Kaen.
Even in China, insects are a common culinary ingredient in many regions, but there are still no mentions of this in food law. An exception, though, is silkworm pupae, which was included in 2014 in the list of foods allowed by the Ministry of Health. China is the world’s largest producer of silk and silkworms are available in very large quantities. They are also exported for food consumption, such as to Thailand.
South Korea’s government launched a process to legalise some edible insects in 2011. On the list there are mealworm, crickets (not the usual Acheta Domesticus, but the Gryllus bimaculatus species) and some larvae. Following this preliminary process, in 2016, the Korean Food and Drug Administration classified crickets and mealworms as normal foods, without restrictions. It is expected that other insects will be added soon to the eligibility list.

Three insects admitted in Switzerland as foodstuff on Friday 16.12.2016.

Swiss foodies will be able to buy insects such as mealworms, crickets and locusts for consumption, after approval from the government. The new revised food laws, which bring Switzerland into line with the European Union, will come into effect on May 1, 2017, the cabinet decided on Friday. From that date, all foodstuffs can be sold in Switzerland, as long as they are judged to be safe and respect legal regulations. Up to present, foodstuffs which were not specifically mentioned in Swiss law were banned. Mealworms, crickets and locusts, for example, could only be sold as pet food. From May next year insects can be sold legally throughout Switzerland. They will, however, be subject to an authorization to ensure their safety, the government said.

Source: The association Grimiam

EU agrees on insect protein for aquafeed

IPIFF, the European Umbrella Organisation representing the interests of the Insect Production sector for Food and Feed – welcomed the ‘green light’ given by EU Member States on the authorisation of insect proteins as fish feed.
The EU Member States representatives endorsed a European Commission proposal which was discussed today in a meeting of the EU Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed (SCoPAFF). The text is expected to be formally adopted during the spring 2017, which means that insect proteins should be effectively authorised for use in fish feed as from 1st July 2017. This is earlier than predictions from Dutch bank ABN Amro who forecasts Q3 2017 for approval of insect meal in aquafeed.

Reacting to Member States’ vote, IPIFF president Antoine Hubert said: “We are particularly pleased with the move made by EU institutions: the opening of this legislation is in our view a major milestone towards the development of the European insect production sector.”

IPIFF vice president Tarique Arsiwalla recalled the recent opinion from the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) dated from 8 October 2015, which concluded that insects fed with plant based materials entail no risks if insect producers comply with best hygiene practices. “This is precisely the case of the IPIFF members, who comply with very stringent risk management procedures, in accordance with the EU food and feed safety legislations,” explained Arsiwalla.

Looking ahead, IPIFF expressed the will to pursue efforts towards a possible authorisation of insect proteins to other non-ruminant species (e.g. pigs and poultry) or to allow to use other ‘high grade’ materials to feed their insects. “We will plead for further relaxation of EU rules, in case safety conditions associated with these new routes have been demonstrated,” explained Hubert. The recent ABN Amro report on this topic expects approval of insect meal for pigs and poultry in 2020.

“In the long run, these changes should contribute to alleviate European dependency on protein imports, whilst securing a promising source of protein for EU farmers & customers,” concluded the IPIFF chair.

Also outside the EU, the reactions are positive. Jason Drew, co-founder of AgriProtein (the world’s biggest fly-farmer, established in South Africa) said. “Yesterday’s move by EU regulators brings insect protein into the mainstream of ingredients permitted in animal feed. This is a big step forward for the environment and for world food security. Trawling the oceans to produce fishmeal is one of the most destructive activities on the planet. Replacing fish protein with insect protein in animal diets allows us to dedicate our oceans to production for human consumption alone.” Drew hopes that regulators now move to the next logical step: give insect protein the green light as a feed for all non-ruminants. He also states that post-consumer waste should be given the green light as insect-rearing material, which is done outside the EU. “Outside the EU, our fly-factories are already making a big dent in the waste-to-landfill problem,” said Drew.

FSA poses allergy questions over future use of insects protein.

A new report from the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has highlighted the importance of considering how to balance the potential nutritional benefits of using insect protein against the need to manage the risks this may pose for “allergic consumers”.

The report, launched today during a food allergy and intolerance research programme workshop in London, seeks to “debunk some of the myths that exist” in relation the issue. In doing so, however, it devotes a concluding page to the potential impact of adding insect protein to the food chain.

The publication comes at a time when the use of insect protein by the animal feed industry in pig, poultry and fish diets is gathering considerable momentum. Delegates attending this year’s PROteINSECT conference in Brussels, for example, were told that the animal feed industry was now “ready” to address the use of insect protein in feeds. That, however, was before the FSA added its allergy observations to the debate.

“Novel foods such as insects could be the sustainable food of the future,” stated the FSA, “but what does this mean for food allergy? With the growing world population, the demand for animal protein is predicted to increase by 75% between now and 2050, and insects are promising candidates as an alternative sustainable food source.

“Given the novelty of insects as food in Europe, there is a need to think more about potential food safety risks and how insects can be prepared and eaten safely. Along with physical, toxicological and microbiological risks, a key issue for any new sources of protein is the potential to cause food allergies.

“From an allergy perspective the major risk associated with new foods like insects is that they can contain proteins that may elicit an allergic response in populations where they are newly introduced.

“With a growing number of insect products appearing on the market it is important to consider how we balance getting the benefits of new foods while managing the risks for allergic consumers. Making consumers aware there is a potential for allergic reactions, especially for those with an allergy to crustaceans, will be an important step.”

Source: PW reporter on November 04, 2016,

26th of October: The EU Novel Food Regulation and the Special Case of Insects

On 1 January 2018, Regulation (EU) No 2015/2283 on novel food, replacing the current rules adopted in 1997, will come into application. This new Regulation will introduce a simpler, clearer and more efficient authorisation procedure, fully centralised at EU level. This should enable safe and innovative food to be placed on the EU market faster without compromising a high level of public health.
The new Regulation clarifies that whole animals, such as whole insects, if not consumed to a significant degree by humans in the EU prior to 1997, fall under the definition of novel food. Parts of insects (such as legs, wings, head, etc.) are also considered as novel food.
In cooperation with the National Bureau of Agricultural Commodity and Food Standards (ACFS) of the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, Thai Food and Drug Administration (Thai FDA) of the Ministry of Public Health and the Khon Kaen University (KKU), the Delegation of the European Union to Thailand will organise a public conference in Bangkok on 26 October 2016, and a workshop in Khon Kaen on 27 October 2016, on “The EU Novel Food Regulation and the Special Case of Insects”.
These activities aim to establish a common understanding of the relevant legislation applicable to novel food, both in the EU and in Thailand. The programme will support the subsistence costs of 150 participants mainly from the private sector but also from ACFS, FDA and other relevant Thai authorities.

Source: Global Bugs Asia and

Insect journal to co-operate with EAAP

The Journal of Insects as Food and Feed (JIFF) will collaborate with the recently appointed Study Commission on Insects of the European Federation of Animal Science (EAAP).
Last August, at their annual meeting in Belfast, UK, the EAAP announced a new Study Commission on Insects. This Commission will address all questions concerning biomass as substrate for insect rearing, nutritional requirements of insects, insect production, processing methods of insect products, feeding value of insects (products) in animal feed, functional properties of insect products in animal feed, market applications, regulatory issues, consumer acceptance, environmental and socio-economic sustainability.

These topics fit perfectly within the scope of JIFF, the online scientific peer-reviewed journal that publishes articles looking at the multitude of aspects relevant for the utilisation of insects in increasing food and feed quality, safety and security, covering edible insects from harvesting in the wild through to industrial-scale production.

The Study Commission on Insects will organise sessions at the annual EAAP meetings, and the resulting peer-reviewed scientific output will be published in JIFF. The first sessions organised by the Study Commission on Insects will be held during the 2017 EAAP annual meeting in Tallinn, Estonia, 28 August – 1 September.

Dr Teun Veldkamp, a scientist at Wageningen Livestock Research in the Netherlands, is the first president of the new commission. As part of the collaboration with JIFF, he will join the editorial board of the journal. Jørgen Eilenberg, professor at the University of Copenhagen and editorial board member of JIFF since its launch, is also a member of the Study Commission on Insects. The other commission members are Michelle Epstein (Medical University of Vienna), Alessandro Agazzi (University of Milan), Marian Peters (International Insect Centre), Alexis Angot (Ynsect) and Roel Boersma (Protix).

“Growing of insects can be fully considered now as mini-livestock,” says Teun Veldkamp. “It requires multi-disciplinary approaches and EAAP as well as JIFF are essential institutions for science and industry.”


Legalization of insect based meal and the re-introduction of processed animal proteins in poultry feeds

The British Poultry Council (BPC) is calling for the legalization of insect based meal and the re-introduction of processed animal proteins in poultry feeds, as new government figures reveal that poultry feed prices are rising at a higher rate than prices of other livestock feeds.

According to the figures, released by the UK Government’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, average compound feed prices for livestock in Great Britain rose by 75.7% for pig feed, 85.8% for cattle feed, 92.7% for sheep feed and 101.4% for poultry feed from January 2006 to June 2014.

“Poultry producers have seen the highest rise in feed since 2006 compared to other major livestock types. This is largely as a result of poultry meat consumption and production growing faster than other meats, but also due to EU constraints on certain feed sources,” Andrew Large, the BPC’s chief executive, told FeedNavigator.

He added: “Feed costs are rising as a combination of increased demand for feed, poor harvests in recent years and restrictions on what can be included in animal feed in the EU.”

Whilst little can be done to change market drivers such as rising energy prices, a growing global population and pressure on land use, Large insisted that the Government does have control over the range of options feed producers can access when preparing feeds.

“We therefore urge the Government to act to broaden the range of animal feeds that are available,” he said.

Removal of legislative barriers

In order for this to happen, Large acknowledged that legislative barriers needed to be removed at an EU level. “There are a large number of legislative challenges but the main two are the current ban on feeding animal proteins to farm animals and the ban on using both catering waste and manure as a substrate for growing insect larvae,” he said.

The use of processed animal protein (PAP) in farm animal feed was banned in the European Union in 2001, amid fears about its contribution to mad cow disease.

There have since been discussions at an EU level about relaxing the ban to allow the feeding of PAP derived from non-ruminants to non-ruminants of a different species. The use of PAP is now permitted in fish feed, and discussions remain ongoing for pig and poultry.

The BPC supports the re-introduction of PAP in poultry feeds, subject to strict controls.

“The main challenge is ensuring a reliable test is in place to prevent same species material and ruminant material finding its way into poultry feed,” said Large.

Another measure that the BPC believes would keep feed prices in check is the removal of legislative barriers to the use of insect based meals.

Regulate the use of food waste as feed

A remarkable news item in December 2015 about researchers launching a plea for the re-legalisation of swill feed for pigs. Remarkable, as it happened in the UK, the country where swill feed caused Foot-and-Mouth Disease leading to a swill feed ban. What are the motives behind the plea?
Pigs are history’s oldest food waste recyclers. 9,000 years ago in Anatolia and the Mekong Valley, modern-day Turkey and China, wild pigs first raided the piles of food waste left by humans, taking their first steps towards domestication. Swill-feeding – cooked food waste fed to pigs is colloquially known as ‘swill’ – is a traditional recycling practice that turns discarded scraps into high-quality pork.

While swill continues to be used in small-scale pork production across much of the world, its use is controversial in some countries and there is great geographic variation in its acceptance and regulation. Swill was banned in the European Union (EU) in 2002 after the UK Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) epidemic (thought to have been started by the illegal feeding of uncooked food waste to pigs), but is actively promoted in nations such as Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand. In this article, we take a closer look at these modern East Asian systems of food waste recycling, and consider the economic and environmental case for re-legalising the use of swill in the EU.

Risk of feeding uncooked food waste to livestock
Though swill is currently illegal in the EU, this wasn’t always the case. Swill was the dominant pig feed in the early 20th century and was promoted by the UK government during the Second World War to boost food security. The popularity of swill-feeding declined after the War as the abundance of cheap grains led the pig industry to focus on increasing production efficiencies through grain- and soybean-based diets.
The risks of feeding uncooked food waste were demonstrated in 2001 when a UK farmer illegally fed some to pigs, precipitating the 2001 FMD outbreak, which cost the UK economy £8 billion (€10.4 billion). In response, swill-feeding was banned in the UK in 2001, with the ban extended across the EU the following year.

Heat treatment in Asia
While the EU saw swill only as a disease risk, other nations saw it as a potential resource. Heat treatment deactivates viruses such as FMD and Classical Swine Fever (hog cholera) and renders food waste safe for animal feed. In the same year that the UK banned the use of swill, the Japanese government launched an initiative to promote the regulated use of food waste in animal feed.

Today, Japan and South Korea recycle around 40% of their food waste as feed. In these countries, the industry is tightly regulated: the heat treatment of food waste is carried out by registered ‘Ecofeed’ manufacturers, who are required by food safety law to heat treat food waste containing meats for a minimum of 30 minutes at 70°C or 3 minutes at 80°C. Food waste feed is typically fed as a dehydrated pellet, or a fermented, liquid feed – both technologies have been shown to sterilise the food waste and increase the feed shelf life without destroying nutrients. Since the introduction of these regulated systems, there have been no swill-associated outbreaks of disease.

Swill feed may induce slower growth but also savings
In Japan and South Korea, swill is seen as a strategic resource: it is a cheap, domestic alternative to the more expensive, volatile international market for grain- and soybean-based feeds. Pigs reared on food waste produce pork of high quality – practically indistinguishable from grain-fed pork. And though swill-fed pigs tend to grow more slowly than when fed conventional, grain-based feed, (because swill has a more variable nutritional content) the costs of slower growth are more than offset by the savings in feed costs.

Swill costs half as much as grain-based feed (see Figure 1) and is popular: the use of swill has consistently grown in both countries (by 125% in Japan from 2003-2013 and by 35% in South Korea from 2001-2006).

Figure 1- Prices of conventional grain-and soybean-based pig feed and swill (Ecofeed) in Japan.

Swill feed offers EU substantial environment benefits
The switch to swill benefits not only farmers’ wallets, but also the environment. When farmers replace grain- and soybean-based feeds with swill, they reduce demand for these land- and greenhouse gas-intensive feeds. The research team at Cambridge University recently estimated what the environmental benefits would be if the EU were to introduce food waste feeding systems, like those in East Asia – and found that the benefits would be substantial. East Asian style food waste recycling would spare 1.8 million hectares of global farmland, an area half the size of Switzerland, including more than a quarter of a million hectares of Brazilian soybean. The expansion of soy in the grasslands and forests of Brazil is associated with large greenhouse gas emissions and biodiversity loss. Because of these benefits, in Japan swill-fed pork is marketed as a premium, low environmental impact product (‘Eco-pork’) and receives an associated price-premium, which further boosts farm profits.

Swill feed for poultry, fish & ruminants
While pigs have a long history of swill-feeding, food waste can, of course, be fed to other species. A number of studies have trialed food waste diets for poultry, fish, insects, and ruminants (cattle, goat and sheep). Food waste containing meats should not, however, be fed to ruminants to prevent the emergence and transmission of prion diseases, such as Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE). In Japan and South Korea, the use of meat wastes in ruminant feed remains illegal for this reason. It is worth noting, however, that there are no recorded cases of pigs, poultry, or fish naturally developing or transmitting diseases such as BSE.

Also interesting: EU reauthorises non-ruminant PAP for fish feed
The use of non-ruminant processing animal proteins (PAP) for use exclusively for fish feed has been re-authorised by the European Commission last week.
2001 FMD outbreak resulted in swill feed ban
Whilst the disastrous FMD outbreak of 2001 showed the potential risks of feeding uncooked food waste to pigs, banning the use of swill was not the only possible solution. Nations such as Japan and South Korea offer working models for the safe, regulated use of food waste as animal feed. As the EU faces both a deficit in protein sources for animal feed and calls to create a zero-waste, circular economy, there is a growing mandate to reconsider the ban on swill. Regulating, rather than prohibiting, the use of food waste as pig feed could safely produce high-quality pork, with substantial economic and environmental benefits.

This article was published earlier online in Broadening Horizons N°22, in December 2015. The publication is a cooperation between the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the French National Institute for Agricultural Research (INRA).
Erasmus zu Ermgassen, Conservation Science Group, Department of Zoology, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom.