"Insect derived products can be used in nutritional and functional feed applications at competitive prices, whilst complying with the highest EU standards in terms of food and feed safety” Tarique Arsiwalla - IPIFF Vice-President
Global population growth and increased welfare levels have led to a fast increase in demand for high quality foods. The FAO estimates that “global meat demand in 2030 will stand at 72% above the 2000 value” whilst the aquaculture market is expected to grow 50% between 2010 and 2030. The result is a big rise in demand for protein-rich feed.
To feed farm animals, the EU currently imports 40 million tonnes of crop proteins, primarily soya, each year. Given the price volatility of soybean meal the economic viability of the EU livestock sector is at risk. The same holds true for the aquaculture market, where the price of fishmeal, its main feed ingredient, has risen fourfold over the past decade. There is thus an urgent need for an alternative source of proteins in feed, as well as for a meat-replacing food product. Insects offer a sustainable solution answering to both needs.
Is insect consumption authorised in Europe?
Insects as food
The production and marketing of insects for human consumption is governed by the so-called ‘EU Novel Food legislation’ (Regulation No 2015/2283, which will apply from 1st January 2018 onward). According to this new legislation, insect products will have to receive a European authorisation, based on a safety evaluation conducted by the European Food Safety Authority before being placed on the EU market. To this end, the insect producing company must submit a comprehensive application dossier. Several IPIFF members are active in the preparation of such applications.
Insects as feed
Two main restrictions currently hinder the use of insect proteins for feed production:
1. The first one is a prohibition of using animal derived proteins (with some exceptions) in feed for farmed animals: the ‘feed ban’
rules are laid down in the so called ‘TSE Regulation’ (i.e. Regulation No 999/2001).
2. The second restriction concerns the possibilities to use certain materials as feed for insects. Insects kept in the EU for production of food, feed or other purposes are considered as ‘farmed animals’ according to EU feed legislation. This means that only authorized substrates may be used as feed for insects: namely, vegetal substrates as well as products of animal origin (e.g. milk or eggs and their derived products). On the contrary, insects cannot be fed with feed materials such as slurry or manure, catering waste or former foodstuffs containing meat or fish.
Is the EU legislation expected to change in the near future?
The answer is yes. On 15 November 2016, the European Commission published a draft amendment to the TSE Regulation which aims to
partially uplift the feed ban regarding the use of insect processed animal proteins (PAPs) for aquaculture animals.
This draft amendment was voted & endorsed by a ‘qualified majority’ of EU Member States in December 2016. The text is now expected to be
officially adopted in May or June 2017, prior to its official application as from 1st July 2017. The authorisation is however limited to the seven following species: black soldier fly, house fly, yellow mealworm, buffalo worm, house cricket, banded cricket and field cricket. Likewise other farmed animals, these species may only be fed with ‘authorized substrates’. The same rules apply to insect PAPs that are imported from EU third countries.
IPIFF views on ongoing EU legislative developments
IPIFF welcomes the aqua feed authorisation IPIFF is convinced that insects will soon constitute a reliable alternative or addition to fishmeal in feed formulae for aquaculture. Insect nutritional characteristics, like protein content, amino acid profile and/or digestibility levels, are indeed comparable to those of fishmeal products, making them a viable substitute in the diet of certain fish species (e.g. trout or Atlantic salmon) or shellfish (e.g. shrimps).
In a context of increasing EU dependency on protein imports for animal feed use, the IPIFF members are also convinced that insects will
constitute a considerable alternative or addition in feed formula for poultry and pig species. Pending the availability of validated analytical
/detection methods, IPIFF pleads for a new ‘relaxation’ of the EU feed ban rules so as to authorise the use of insect PAPs in feed for
other non-ruminant livestock animals (pigs and poultry).
Against this background, IPIFF supports the mandating of the European Food Safety Authority to deliver fully documented conclusions on the potential risks associated with the use of such materials as feed for insects.
Since insects were not widely consumed in the EU before March 1997, insect-based foods are considered ‘Novel Foods’. As such they fall under Regulation 2015/2283 and require authorisation from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) before being placed on the EU market. The details of this regulation, such as the exact scientific requirements applications need to fulfil, are still being determined.
IPIFF considers that the establishment of harmonized rules for the marketing of insect products is a ‘step in the right direction’: while insects have the potential to become a major source of protein in Europe, insect producers primarily rely on a ‘solid’ & ‘stable’ EU regulatory framework to plan their investment & marketing activities throughout the continent. IPIFF emphasises, however, the importance for EU authorities to establish ‘workable’ rules & to provide guidance at implementation stage. These principles, along with appropriate transitional measures, are notably relevant to facilitate the uptake of this new legislation by the insect producers.