Insects as food and feed, a new emerging agricultural sector: A review

Huis, A. van


During the last five years the scientific knowledge on insects as food and feed has been growing exponentially. At the same time, the industrial sector is increasingly engaged in rearing, processing and marketing of edible insects. Considerable attention is given to the black soldier fly as it can convert organic waste streams and transform it into several feed, food and industrial products. The farming of insects has an environmental impact which is lower than that of livestock species. The profitability of industrial production of insects as feed depends very much on the availability and applicability of cheap non-utilised side-streams. Microbial communities and their relationship with insects deserve full attention as it may help in the conversion of organic side streams of low economic value. Nutrition and health benefits for animals and humans need further exploration, also considering that insects have the largest anti-microbial peptide reservoir of all animals. Plant health can also be promoted by using chitincontaining leftover substrates as fertiliser. As insects have only recently been considered as food or feed, legislation trails developments. Therefore, politicians need to be assured that rearing and processing techniques are such that insect products are guaranteed free of chemical and microbial contaminants. Consumers are becoming more and more aware that insects as food are a viable option. Insects need to be processed into ingredients, that can be applied for safe and appetising products. The insect sector is maturing fast, but still faces many challenges, which can only be met when all stakeholders closely cooperate.