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article imageCall for safety guidelines for insect eating

By Tim Sandle     Oct 18, 2015 in Health
In many parts of the world people eat insects as a source of protein. In other countries, the snacking on insects has become popular. Is it time for some safety guidance?
The answer is "yes," according to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA.) The European Union backed body has issued a risk assessment about health issues for people eating insects, as well as issues pertaining to using insects in animal feed. The outcome of the risk assessment, in terms of is insect eating safe, is a sort of “it depends.” The key factor is not so much the species of insect but how the insects were reared and how they were subsequently killed and processed.
The types of risks considered are both chemical and biological, including allergens. The risk assessment has also considered the feasibility of insect farms, and the food chain that stems from this idea.
Here the report states: "The specific production methods, the substrate used, the stage of harvest, the insect species, as well as the methods used for further processing will all have an impact on the possible presence of biological and chemical contaminants in insect food and feed products."
The argument for eating insects is that they are a good source of protein, fat, vitamin, fiber and mineral content. As to what may or may not be an "edible insect," there are said to be some 1,900 species known to be suitable for human consumption. This grouping includes moths, mealworms, crickets and locusts.
The EFSA report has come following a call by the United Nations for many of the world’s population to eat edible insects as a source of nutrition. The U.N. report states: "Trends towards 2050 predict a steady population increase to nine billion, forcing an increased food/feed output from available agro-ecosystems resulting in an even greater pressure on the environment.”
The generated European risk assessment is labelled as an initial one, with a provision to update the risk assessment should any further evidence come to light. EFSA scientific officer, Tilemachos Goumperis, told the BBC: “Further research for better assessment of microbiological and chemical risks from insects and feed including studies on the occurrence of hazards when using particular substrates, like food waste and manure, is recommended.”
More about insect eating, Food, insect food, Protein
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