EFSA issues scientific opinion of insects as food

8 October 2015  •  Author(s): Victoria White

Interest is growing in the potential benefits of using insects in food but there are potential risks that could arise from the production, processing and consumption of this alternative source of protein.


As such, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has created a risk profile that identifies the potential biological and chemical hazards as well as allergenicity and environmental hazards associated with the use of farmed insects.

Presence of hazards in food derived from insects depends on multiple factors, says EFSA

The possible presence of biological and chemical hazards in food derived from insects would depend on the production methods, what the insects are fed on (substrate), the lifecycle stage at which the insects are harvested, the insect species, as well as the methods used for further processing, EFSA’s scientific experts say.

EFSA concludes that when non-processed insects are fed with currently permitted feed materials, the potential occurrence of microbiological hazards is expected to be similar to that associated with other non-processed sources of protein. There are limited data available on the transfer of chemical contaminants from different types of substrate to the insects themselves.

EFSA’s scientific experts also say that the occurrence of prions is expected to be equal or lower if the substrate does not include protein derived from humans (manure) or ruminants.

The Scientific Opinion also considers the possible hazards associated with other types of substrate, such as kitchen waste, and animal manure.

To read EFSA’s Scientific Opinion, please visit: www.efsa.europa.eu

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