Insect Protein Is A Reality, Legislation Is Not
At the recent Mexico Food Tech Summit? last fall, I presented a session on the use of insects in our food supply.
Afterwards, an insect farmer from Chile introduced himself and proceeded to show me scores of the insects he was raising for human consumption – both as whole insects and as ingredients in other foods. He also shared the biggest issue he faces is that of a lack of regulation and food safety standards for his “livestock” across the globe.
Looks like that is about to change. A new set of EU rules that aims to create insect for human consumption standards came into force on January 1. The goal is that common rules across the EU should enable insect farmers to scale up and change an industry that is though of as ‘creepy crawly’ industry to finally be taken seriously and grow to its potential. In our 2017 & 2018 Trends Forecasts we continue to underscore the need and opportunity for this resource to help lower the costs and environmental impact of protein on the planet.
The new regulation now explicitly covers whole insects and ensures that the European Commission will handle insect-food applications directly, with the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) advising.
Until now it was unclear whether producers could market whole insects for human consumption, rather than just insect wings, for example.
Christophe Derrien, the secretary-general of the International Platform of Insects for Food and Feed (IPIFF), a lobby, agreed the new rules will help. “This will definitely boost the sector,” he said, adding that Europe has a number of companies poised to expand production as a result of the changes.
The IPIFF argues that bugs can on average convert 2 kilograms of feed into 1 kilo of body mass — whereas cows require 8 kilos of feed to do the same thing. Insects also emit fewer greenhouses gases or ammonia than cattle or pigs and are highly nutritious to boot, marking them out as a suitable candidate for feeding a world population destined to reach 9 billion by 2050, according to the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization.
Heidi de Bruin, chief executive of Dutch insect producer Proti-Farm, that mostly reared insects for animal feed since the 1980s, told Politico that consumers are keen on bug food for health and environmental reasons. “It’s the nutritional benefits: low sugar, low salt and the sustainability factor,” she said. “Insects have natural vitamins and minerals, they are rich in calcium, high in iron, antibiotic free, chemical free.”
She says “We see a drastic move now.”