Xavier Prats Monné, director general of the Commission’s health and food safety unit, DG Santé, outlined where the legislative process was in relation to insects use in fish feed when he visited the production facilities of Dutch insect feed producer, Protix Biosystems, at the end of last month.
The International Platform of Insects for Food and Feed (IPIFF), a consortium of insect companies from the Netherlands, France, and Germany, of which Protix is a member, said the visit gave the EU policymakers an opportunity to see insect production up close.
Monné, accompanied by two other EU food and feed safety policy officials, welcomed the efforts undertaken by the EU insect production sector to professionalize and innovate, according to a report on the event by IPIFF.
In the margins of the visit, a high-level meeting took place between the insect producers and the Commission representatives.
Hygiene and feed substrates
The DG Santé group highlighted as critical compliance with best hygiene practices and feedstocks controls, which implies only EU authorized plant substrates should be used to feed insect products which are marketed into EU.
However, IPIFF reported the DG Santé delegation also acknowledged the potential for EU insect production to use other substrates down the road and the possibility for insect protein to be used in animal species beyond fish eventually.
The Commission team also stressed, said IPIFF, the role of insect producers in building trust through effective communication approaches in order to gain better resonance among EU consumers and citizens.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), in an opinion last October, concluded there was no major safety indications for insects reared on 100% vegetable substrates, thus paving the way, argued IPIFF, for removal of the remaining legislative hurdles in the EU on insect meal use in fish feed.
Insect protein, together with other non-ruminant proteins such as poultry derived sources, seemed to have been given the 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 difficult to comply with this condition, thus preventing their use in fish farming.
Last month, Tarique Arsiwalla, VP of IPIFF, told us DG Santé still had not published a draft revision of the slaughterhouse rule, which the insect group had been led to understand would be released in September. "We don’t know what the exact timing on that is currently. However, the momentum to accelerate legislative change at Brussels level is still there," he added.
The IPIFF's latest report outlined how the Commission’s working group on TSE regulation is discussing a series of proposals from the EU executive aimed at revising current provisions of the EU TSE and animal byproducts legislation to allow insect meal to be used in fish feed. These talks are now scheduled to continue into the new year.
FeedNavigator ran a free webinar last week on the potential for use of alternative proteins in feed, with an intense discussion on insect derived sources. It can be accessed on demand for the next three months – check it out here.