EFSA insect protein safety assessment imminent

By Jane Byrne contact

- Last updated on GMT

EFSA insect protein safety assessment imminent

Related tags: Insect protein, European union, European commission, European parliament

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is set to publish its risk assessment about the safety of insects for food and feed mid-October.

The opinion was then expected due to be released this month. However, today an EFSA spokesperson told FeedNavigator the publication date has been pushed back to mid-October.

In May 2014, the European Commission mandated the Parma based Authority’s Scientific Committee to evaluate the microbial, chemical and environmental hazards linked to insects in food and feed, relative to the risks posed by other protein sources used by the sectors.

The Commission’s Directorate General for Health and Consumers (DG Sante) had originally wanted that safety assessment finalized in June but EFSA said more time was needed.

Once received, the Commission has said it will “evaluate the Authority’s findings and see how to take this issue further.” 

Meanwhile, April this year saw the International Platform of Insects for Food and Feed (IPIFF) present at a forum on EU policy in the area of insect protein organized by DG Sante – an event which also included EFSA’s Scientific Committee.

“EFSA wanted to get a complete picture of what is involved in large scale insect production – IPIFF is ideally placed to provide that,”​ vice-president of IPIFF, Tarique Arsiwalla, told us in April​.

He also said the consortium, which is made up of insect-producing companies from the Netherlands, France, Germany and South Africa, has been holding informal discussions with EU policymakers about the regulatory roadmap for insect feed.

White paper due from EU-funded insect project

Elaine Fitches, coordinator of the EU-funded PROteINSECT project, is also hoping for a positive safety assessment of insect protein from EFSA

That initiative published a report​ in August setting out the evidence for the introduction of insect protein into animal feed in Europe and gave an overview of the commercial insect rearing ventures that exist both within and outside Europe to support discussions as the regulatory process for assessing the use of insect protein in livestock and fish feed continues in Europe.

The Consensus Business Case Report was intended to “provide a stepping stone” ​to the White Paper that is to be presented by the PROteINSECT project to the European Parliament in late 2015.

It also highlighted a number of areas that need to be addressed, principally the lack of available safety and quality data. 

“The report shows that fly larvae offer a highly nutritional source of protein, ideal for use in animal feed, but also that a significant amount of research and technology development is required, along with regulatory approval, to make it a commercial reality,”​ said Fitches.

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