UK- The UK Edible Insect Association (UKEIA) is sounding the alarm on the restrictive market entry barriers imposed by the European Novel Food regulations, hindering the growth of the edible insect industry and undermining its potential to contribute to a more sustainable food system.
In a comprehensive report submitted to the Food Standards Agency, UKEIA outlines the need for regulatory reforms to unlock the full potential of insect-based proteins.
The European Novel Food regulations, according to UKEIA, present an “extremely high barrier to entry for edible insect companies and ignore the sector’s potential to build a more sustainable food system.”
The association’s extensive review of published scientific literature emphasizes that professional farming practices can produce insect-based food ingredients with no more risks than those of commonly consumed foods like chicken, pork, and shellfish.
UKEIA argues for the establishment of effective and science-led standards within the sector, coupled with a licensing requirement for farmers, to ensure robust consumer protection.
The association envisions the UK as a potential hub for insect farmers and food product innovators but emphasizes the necessity of significant regulatory changes to realize this vision.
Aaron Thomas, Chair of UKEIA’s Board and co-founder of Yum Bug, states, “Insects have a critical role to play in creating a sustainable future food system.”
He highlights the challenges posed by the Novel Food regulations, which, in his view, hinder innovation and growth in the sector without proportional benefits for consumer safety.
The call for regulatory changes aligns with the argument that replacing the European Novel Food regulations with a different model could demonstrate tangible benefits for the UK, showcasing independence from Europe in this domain.
Peter Jackson, Director of the Institute for Sustainable Food at the University of Sheffield, emphasizes the urgency of addressing challenges related to feeding a growing population.
He notes that, in addition to reducing meat consumption and promoting a higher intake of fruits, vegetables, and pulses, alternative protein sources such as insects are gaining attention.
The Institute for Sustainable Food has collaborated with UKEIA to produce an independent review of the evidence surrounding the safety of insect consumption.
Jackson sees this partnership as crucial, especially considering the unique opportunity presented by the UK’s exit from the EU to review and propose alternatives to current legislation on novel foods.
In a related development across the Atlantic, US-based scientists are exploring the use of black soldier flies to reduce dairy waste. The project aims to assess the environmental health and economic benefits of converting dairy waste into protein for feed, with the post-digestion residue serving as a fertilizer.
This initiative aligns with broader efforts to harness insects for sustainable solutions, a trend gaining momentum in various parts of the world.