Insure the safety of insects

Before insects can be introduced to the EU market on a large scale, their safety should be investigated such to enable proper food safety control. It is for this reason, that during recent years the safety of the production of insects has gained attention.

Several national authorities, including the Netherlands, Belgium, and France, have published a risk assessment on the safety of the use of insects for feed and/or food. EFSA has released on opinion on this topic at the end of 2015. Those reports are based on current (scientific) knowledge, which is - however - very scattered. In particular, little is known about possible chemical and microbiological contamination, as well as possible allergenicity of reared insects. Some literature and case study descriptions are available for insects caught from the wild. This information is, however, limited to some individual species. For reared insects, such information is even more limited. From the available sources, it seems that certain contaminants may be accumulated by insects from their substrates, whereas other contaminants are not (mostly excreted).  

During the latest years, insects are increasingly getting the interest as a novel protein source for use in feed and food production. However, to date, not much data is available on the safety of insects for use in feed and food.

In this PPS project, we will investigate safety issues related to the production of insects. We will perform experiments in which insects are reared on a substrate that is contaminated with a particular food safety hazard. We will then investigate potential excretion/accumulation of the hazard in the insect.

Results will provide more insights in the possible food safety hazards that should be controlled during insect rearing when those insects are to be used in feed and food.