An equal number of respondents, it was reported, said they believe there is a low risk to human health associated with insect protein for animal feed.
The Europe-wide, multi-lingual consumer perception survey received more than 1,100 responses, said PROteINSECT.
And the full results of the survey are to be broadcast on the BBC rural affairs program, CountryFile, on 29 November.
The findings mirror those of previous polls carried out by both PROteINSECT and Ghent University – it would seem that European consumers are generally not overly resistant to the idea of insect protein use in feed and food.
Elaine Fitches, coordinator of PROteINSECT, which is investigating the potential of using insect protein in the diets of chicken, pigs and fish through safety analysis and feeding trials, said the survey results also suggest there is consumer demand for more knowledge around current and potential protein sources for feed:
“Early results from English-speaking respondents demonstrate that 91% feel they should have basic knowledge about the content of animal feed. Close to 60% said that when buying meat or fish, their choices are affected by what the animal itself has been fed.”
She told FeedNavigator previously that, ultimately, public acceptance of the use of insect protein in animal feed will be vital to the development of a successful insect protein market within Europe. The development of an EU insect protein market, she added, is stunted by the existing legislative landscape.
Last month, a risk assessment on the use of insect protein for use in feed and food published by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) highlighted a lack of data.
That opinion was delivered in the context of the policy the European Commission’s DG for Health and Consumers (DG Sante) is developing on insect derived protein for feed and food uses.
Dr Adrian Charlton, a member of the EFSA scientific panel and also a researcher in PROteINSECT, said, at the time, the findings highlight the work still needed to be done to ensure robust safety and quality information is available for insect protein.
Interestingly, EFSA also found no immediate safety risk in the production and consumption of insects reared on 100% plant based feed materials.
The Authority confirmed: “the specific production methods, the substrate used, the stage of harvest, the insect species, as well as the methods used for further processing will all have an impact on the possible presence of biological and chemical contaminants in insect food and feed products.”
And, Tarique Arsiwalla, vice president of the International Platform of Insects for Food and Feed (IPIFF), a consortium of insect-producing companies from the Netherlands, France, Germany and South Africa amongst others, last month told us the EFSA opinion likely paves the way for regulatory changes:
"Now that EFSA hasn’t found major safety indications for insect reared on 100% vegetable substrates, it is time to take the next steps: for the feed sector this means lifting the slaughterhouse amendment in the case of using insect proteins in aquaculture."