Global Bugs

Insects as future food

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

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 sugar could treat fatty liver disease

Trehalose coaxes mouse liver cells to clear out excess fat

Cells in the body sometimes need a spring cleaning to clear out unwanted or dysfunctional proteins, fats, and other biomolecules cluttering their insides.
The regulated cleaning process cells use is called autophagy. Scientists think compounds that can trigger autophagy could lead to therapeutics for a range of diseases, including diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease, which involve the buildup of malfunctioning molecules in cells.
In a new study, researchers report that the disaccharide trehalose initiates autophagy by blocking glucose from entering cells. They show that trehalose can help liver cells in mice remove excess fat, preventing fatty liver disease in the animals (Sci. Signal. 2016, DOI: 10.1126/scisignal.aac5472).
“There are about 1 billion people walking around the world with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, whether they know it or not,” says gastroenterologist Brian J. DeBosch of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. People with the disease have excess fat in their livers, which can cause damaging inflammation and possibly lead to liver cancer or even liver failure. Currently the best treatment is diet change and weight loss.
Previous neuroscience studies pointed DeBosch and his colleagues to trehalose—a sugar made by fungi, plants, and insects—as a possible therapeutic for the disease.
Several studies have shown that the disaccharide can trigger autophagy to help neurons clear out aggregated proteins in mouse models of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. If trehalose could get cells to flush out built-up proteins, DeBosch and his team thought, maybe it would also help eliminate excess fat.
To test the idea, they had a group of mice drink a 3% trehalose solution for two days before putting the rodents on a diet that can induce fatty liver disease. Animals that drank the trehalose-spiked water had significantly lower levels of genetic markers for fatty liver disease, as well as lower amounts of triglycerides and cholesterol in their livers, compared with mice that didn’t consume trehalose.
Through cell culture studies, the researchers determined that trehalose inactivates glucose transporters, proteins that move glucose into cells. With less glucose coming in, cells get tricked into initiating pathways triggered by starvation, including autophagy.
These results have promising therapeutic implications because parts of the pathway trehalose turns on, in particular the activation of an enzyme called AMPK, are also stimulated by metformin, a drug that has been shown to reduce some consequences of fatty liver disease in people, says Rohit Loomba, a gastroenterologist at University of California, San Diego. Loomba thinks the researchers should next see whether trehalose can reduce biomarkers for liver inflammation and scarring, which can contribute to damage in the liver.
And neuroscientists interested in trehalose’s effects in the brain need to determine whether the sugar triggers autogaphy there through the same mechanism as in the liver, says Michel Goedert, a neurobiologist at Cambridge University, who has studied trehalose in a mouse model of Alzheimer’s disease.
The new study offers something all scientists working with trehalose have been looking for: a cellular target, says Claudio Hetz, a researcher at the University of Chile, who showed that trehalose can clear protein aggregates in mice with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. With this protein target, scientists can possibly design molecules that are more stable and more effective autophagy activators than trehalose, he says.
But DeBosch points out that if trehalose is shown to produce similar effects in people, it would likely be well-tolerated as a therapeutic. In fact, some people already consume it. “If you look on, you can order it today and eat it tomorrow,” DeBosch says.

Source: Volume 94 Issue 9 | p. 9 | News of The Week
Issue Date: February 29, 2016 | Web Date: February 24, 2016
Chemical & Engineering News
ISSN 0009-2347
Copyright © 2016 American Chemical Society

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.”


By Stuart Marsh

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.