Insects are a promising alternative source of proteins: FEFAC

By Jane Byrne contact

- Last updated on GMT

© istock/ipopba
© istock/ipopba

Related tags: Protein

The inclusion of insect meal could further contribute to the sustainable development of EU aquaculture, in the long term, says the EU compound feed manufacturing trade group, FEFAC.

Processed proteins derived from insects are approved for use in feed for farmed fish in the EU.

The legislation only officially entered into force this month, on 1 July.

The industry representatives said “the authorization of this promising alternative source of proteins for animal feeding, in particular for fish farming, which requires diet compositions with highly digestible proteins.”

Within the current legal framework, the feeding of insects destined to be used as fish feed needs to comply with the same requirements as any conventionally farmed animal, meaning that they may not be fed with catering waste or livestock manure, said FEFAC.

It said that this measure is in line with the present state of scientific knowledge and should facilitate the public and market acceptance of insect proteins used as feed. However, the Brussels based group said it would encourage further research into the safety of potential alternative substrates for insect farming, in the context of boosting circular economies.

The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) released its opinion​ on the risk profile related to production and consumption of insects as food and feed in October 2015, a risk assessment that prompted the final authorization for insect derived protein in aqua feed in the EU.

Moving beyond fish

European insect protein players are also aiming to push for regulatory change to allow larvae meal use in EU pig and poultry production. 

In March, industry consortium, the International Platform for Insects for Food and Feed (IPIFF), which includes insect companies from the Netherlands, France, and Germany, said it was intending to step up its lobbying efforts in that regard. 

IPIFF advocating for the use of insect feed in monogastric production in the EU is somewhat consistent with the ongoing discussions around the authorization process for the use of pig and poultry processed animal proteins (PAPs) in feed for these species, Antoine Hubert, president of IPIFF, told us then.

“Current EU work around the development of analytical methods on pigs and poultry PAPs is also very relevant for insects PAPs.  

“Insects PAPs could be an additional option in feed formulation for these species, provided that analytical methods allow for the detection of the adventitious presence of pig or poultry species in insect PAPs to comply with the intra species recycling prohibition.

“IPIFF members are happy to collaborate on this,” ​he told FeedNavigator.

The (TSE) Roadmap 2​ saw the Commission announce it would evaluate the reauthorization of the use of PAP from non-ruminants in non-ruminant feed. However, validated analytical techniques to determine the species origin of PAP are needed, in order to be able to ensure the intra-species recycling prohibition is respected. The EU Reference Laboratory for Animal Proteins is carrying out that work.

What can producers use to feed their insects?

EU insect producers said they also want to expand the range of agri-food chain sourced substrates they can use to rear insects on.

IPIFF has also called for more research into the use of former foodstuffs containing meat and fish along with catering waste as insect rearing feedstock in Europe.

Hubert said use of such former foodstuffs as material to feed insects would represent “a real economic opportunity”​ for industry stakeholders involved and it would help address challenges around waste management in the EU.

However, he acknowledged there are data gaps around the risks linked to the use of such substrates and called for a full safety assessment from EFSA on the rearing of insects on non-plant based material.  

“On this basis, we can decide whether it makes sense to ask for a revision of existing EU legislation in this field,”​ added Hubert.

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