Edible insect business will get authorized readability following Brexit

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Edible insect business will get authorized readability following Brexit

02 Dec 2022 — Insect consumption advocate Woven has scored a pivotal victory in his fight for insect protein to be recognized as part of the human food chain. Following various post-Brexit issues, Woven’s lobbying of the UK Parliament to accept the inherent safety and value of insects has resulted in an agreement that may pave the way for insect protein to become a primary industry.

Post-Brexit, the sector was in limbo on the legal status of edible insects in the UK, with Woven advocating that insects are safe to eat and could be part of a future shift leading to increasing numbers of ento-vegetarians worldwide will lead.

In fact, Parliament has agreed to open the UK market to products containing various edible insects including mealworms, grasshoppers, crickets and grasshoppers. After a debate in the House of Commons earlier this week, Parliament voted to give the green light to transitional measures for edible insects in the UK.

While the burgeoning insect industry in Europe has recently gained momentum with recent EU approvals for crickets and mealworms bringing them closer to the European plate, the development of edible insects in the UK has been held back in the wake of Brexit.

But this development marks the end of a long effort by Woven to clarify various ambiguous legal positions for the post-Brexit insect market. As part of this news, Nick Rousseau, founder of Woven, agrees FoodIngredientsFirst Benefits, problems and future of insect breeding.

“Edible insects can offer consumers a good alternative to meat when looking for protein in their diet. We need multiple alternatives to be available because everyone has their preferences and needs,” he explains.

Rousseau strives to promote insect farming as a viable alternative to plant-based alternatives.

“Plant-based products do not meet all of our nutritional needs and can be intensively farmed, resulting in environmental damage. Edible insects can be farmed on a small scale anywhere in the country where there are suitable organic by-products – opening up new revenue streams for farmers and others in the food supply chain.”

“The ecological footprint of farmed insects is generally much smaller than animal husbandry – some of our members are working with partners to do life cycle assessments to prove this,” says Rousseau.

Woven hopes this latest UK government approval will open the door for further progress. Brexit issues
Rousseau is happy to have navigated out of the Brexit legal fog. “Post-Brexit has been a challenging time and it continues to make trading challenging,” he continues.

“Our members lacked clarity on the legal status of edible insect products, which has had far-reaching implications – some have been closed on orders from environmental health officials, while others have been allowed to continue. Some were in talks with major supermarket chains about product development or sales but had to stop. Getting insurance was impossible for many.”

Following limited UK government approval, Rousseau already has plans to bring insect proteins to the EU.

“International trade was also a challenge, especially with Europe,” he explains.

“We have developed a positive relationship with the Food Standards Agency, but they had legal obligations and minimal capacity. They supported us but it took them a long time to seek legal advice on exactly what the post-Brexit UK situation is like.”

“Fortunately, we have excellent relationships with our European colleagues – both the International Platform for Insects in Food and Feed (IPIFF) and the national federations, in particular the Belgian Insect Industry Federation. We have formed strong collaborations that allow us to prepare and submit applications for novel food approvals,” notes Rousseau.

Insect-based diets are growing in popularity in the EU but still face many legal hurdles. Novel foods
Woven’s successful lobbying came at a high price. The Interim Agreement covers only seven species of insects: Lesser mealworm (Alphitobius diaperinus larvae), house cricket (Acheta domesticus), yellow mealworm (Tenebrio molitor), ribbon cricket (Gyllodes sigallatus), bird grasshopper / desert locust (Schistocerca gregaria), migratory locust (Locusta migratoria) and black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens larvae).

“We believe that edible insects are very safe and nutritious, but the fact that they are classified as novel foods creates a huge and costly barrier to trade,” says Rousseau.

“The dossier for Acheta domesticus that we prepared with the help of BIFF is over 100 pages and required custom laboratory testing and analysis that cost around $105,000.”

These costs result primarily from establishing the safety of insect consumption, which Rousseau takes seriously.

“Humanity faces a significant threat in the form of climate change and this must be balanced against the small risk of someone becoming ill from eating a product containing an edible insect.

insects over plants
Rousseau understands that consumers may have mixed feelings about choosing insects over plant-based foods and claims that insect-based foods are a viable alternative.

“If insects and plants are better for the environment than meat, then offering more different ways to get your protein can contribute to a more sustainable world,” he says.

“There are amino acids in insects that cannot be obtained from plant protein. If you’re a vegetarian and want to eat well while reducing your environmental impact, adding some insect-based products makes a lot of sense.”

Rousseau positions insect-based diets as a potential part of ento-veganism.

“Vegans want to minimize the suffering of living things, but intensive farming (like soy and almonds) is enormously harmful and leads to widespread destruction of ecosystems, including insects and other living things. We encounter some ento-vegans who are vegan but also include insects in their diets to meet their nutritional needs and offset the environmental impact.”

By James Davis

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