Insect feed producers align to remove EU regulatory roadblocks

By Jane Byrne contact

- Last updated on GMT

© istock.com/CreativeNature_nl
© istock.com/CreativeNature_nl

Related tags: European union, Protein, European commission

Firms behind insect derived protein for animal feed have joined forces in a trade association to tackle existing EU legislative bottlenecks and ensure that stakeholders are fully aware of the sector’s production methods and regulatory adherence.

The International Platform of Insects for Food and Feed (IPIFF), which is made up of insect-producing companies from the Netherlands, France, Germany and South Africa, was officially launched in Brussels yesterday.

But vice-president of that platform, Tarique Arsiwalla, who is also co-founder of Dutch insect protein player Protix Biosystems, said the consortium has also been informally involved in discussions with EU policymakers for several months.

Indeed, February this year saw the IPIFF present at a forum on EU policy in the area of insect protein organized by the EU Commission’s Directorate General for Health and Consumers (DG Sante) involving the Scientific Committee of the EU’s food safety authority, EFSA.

“EFSA, which is in the process of drafting an opinion on the microbial, chemical and environmental hazards linked to insects in food and feed for submission to the Commission in June, wanted to get a complete picture of what is involved in large scale insect production – IPIFF is ideally placed to provide that,”​ Arsiwalla told FeedNavigator.

He stressed that production techniques have been developed in recent years which comply with stringent risk management procedures are now being deployed at industrial scale by companies.

Transparency for stakeholders

Arsiwalla said there is huge interest in insect feed from the EU aquaculture sector and from pig and poultry producers, with advance orders already in place, but “many stakeholders from farmers to feed mills to waste management companies to new entrants in the insect production business are unclear as to the current status of the legislation and IPIFF intends to ensure greater transparency on that front.”

So he said the trade group is looking to effectively align the global insect protein industry and make new start-ups, in particular, fully aware of the current EU rules such as that insects can only be fed on plant based substrates that can be tracked and traced back to the source.

“We don’t want a sector, which is just beginning to take shape, to be damaged through inaccurate information in the media or a lack of knowledge by new players of what is required in terms of complying with EU standards on food and feed safety,”​ he added.

He said the insect production business is an industry in waiting and one that is ready to explode once the application areas become wide open. “The ever increasing demand for meat and fish products globally together with finite resources and high fishmeal prices support that viewpoint,”​ said Arsiwalla.

Legislative roadmap

The IPIFF has been putting together a roadmap of legislative actions the producers want to achieve in the short term – one of which includes a widening of the application areas for insect protein beyond pet food.

Insect protein, together with our non-ruminant proteins such as poultry derived sources, seemed to have been given 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 not possible to comply with this condition, thus preventing their use in fish farming, said Arsiwalla.

He expects the amendment of Annex IV to be in place by September this year following on from the publication of EFSA’s safety assessment.

“The opening up of the aquaculture sector to insect protein firms would be a real breakthrough for our industry and would accelerate IPIFF members’ tonnage capacity development projects,”​ he added.

Former foodstuffs as alternative substrate

The IPIFF also wants EU policymakers to consider other organic waste streams for rearing insects such as pre-consumer food waste.

“Access to beyond expiry supermarket foodstuffs as a substrate would be major step forward for our sector and would help to further emphasize our role in recovering proteins and lipids from waste and closing the nutrient cycle,”​ said Arsiwalla. 

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