insects are as safe to eat and produce as other farmed livestock, the European
Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has claimed.
report by the authority, which assesses food risks for the EU, found that
insects given approved feed posed no more risk than other mainstream sources of
insects are fed with currently permitted feed materials, the potential
occurrence of microbiological hazards is expected to be similar to that
associated with other non-processed sources of protein,’ it states.
authority, which notes that interest is growing in the potential benefits of
using insects in food and animal feed, found the wider environmental risks were also
comparable to conventional farming.
environmental risk of insect farming is also expected to be comparable to other
animal production systems. Existing waste management strategies should be
applicable for disposing of waste from insect production,’ it states.
Food Standards Agency told EHN that there were no insect farms in the UK but some companies were supplying insects for human consumption.
are not aware that insects are currently being farmed in the UK. However, we
know that around 13 companies that sell insects for human consumption.
Information received in response to our consultation in 2011 suggests these
include mealworms, crickets, Chinese yellow scorpions, Giant toasted ants,
Black Asian Tarantulas and Locusts,’ said a spokesperson.
FSA said it was the responsibility these businesses to ensure the insects are safe to eat.
EFSA report and those of competent authorities in the Netherlands, France and
Belgian, highlight the risks to be managed by businesses. These are similar to
those of other farmed animals with the addition of hard parts of the animal and
food allergenicity,’ said the spokesperson.
European Commission is seeking harmonisation of the novel foods regulations in
relation to the sale of edible insects across all member states. Novel foods
are subject to additional safety checks.
the EU, parts or extracts of insects are already subject to novel foods
approval however individual member states have had different interpretations as
to whether this applies to whole insects. In the UK, whole edible insects are
not considered novel,’ said the spokesperson.
the novel foods legislation is amended this is set to change by 2016.
Daly, policy and technical advisor at The Institute of Food Safety Integrity
and Protection (TiFSiP), told EHN that insects are in theory safe to eat.
are questions about how farming methods could introduce food safety risks, for
example, microbiological contamination. It is likely that appropriate
techniques will control risks, but as it is a new sector there may not be
established good practice,’ he said.
added they a viable alternative source of protein.
are high in protein and low in fat. Another advantage is that they can produce
protein with much smaller amount of inputs – energy, land area, water, etc,
when compared to animal/non-animal sources,’ he said.