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Insects grown on former foodstuffs are safe for animal feed

Black soldier fly larvae, house fly larvae, mealworms and small mealworms that are grown on food waste can – under certain conditions – be safely used as an ingredient for animal feed. This is the conclusion of a study by the Risk Assessment & Research Office (BuRO) of the Dutch Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA).

The risk assessment of BuRO shows that potential risks of insects grown on former foodstuff can be adequately controlled as animal feed. This means that insects could be allowed as animal feed for more farm animals than just the current legally permitted fish, crustaceans and shellfish (aquaculture animals).

Germ-reducing treatment

Former foods consisting only of vegetable components, or animal components derived from dairy, eggs, honey, melted fat, and collagen or gelatin from non-ruminating farm animals can be used safely for the breeding of insects for all farm animals, provided that these farmed insects or the products thereof undergo adequate germ-reducing treatment, for example heating.

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Breeding of insects on former foodstuff

BuRO also sees possibilities for the breeding of insects on former foodstuff containing animal components for several types of farm animals, which according to current legislation is not yet allowed. The precondition for this is that adequate germ-reducing treatment is used and furthermore that the insects are only fed to non-ruminants. Also the insect diet fed to these non-ruminants must not correspond to the non-ruminate species in the former foodstuff on which the insects are grown.

Complying with prevailing microbial safety standards

BuRO advises the NVWA to ensure that insects (products) as feed material comply with prevailing microbial safety standards for other animal proteins and that the traceability of the species in former foodstuff derived from meat from non-ruminant animals, fish and shellfish is properly secured. BuRO also recommends that developments in the insect sector be properly monitored.

The Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality (LNV) has asked BuRO to investigate the risks of the use of insects in animal feed because the ministry has a desire to change the rules for the use of former foodstuff streams in the context of stimulating circular agriculture in animal feed. One of the options is to use former foods as a breeding ground (substrate) for breeding insects. These insects are then used as a protein-rich ingredient in animal feed. BuRO advises the Minister of LNV to use this risk assessment as a basis for proposals for further adaptation of European legislation.