EFSA opinion – Risk profile related to production and consumption of insects as food and feed

On 8th October the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) published the following scientific opinion about the consumptions of insects as food and feed.

The European Commission (EC) asked the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to assess the microbiological, chemical and environmental risks arising from the production and consumption of insects as food and feed and to cover the main steps from the production chain up to consumption by pets, food producing animals and humans. EFSA was requested to provide an overall conclusion based on the above assessment, on the potential risks posed by the use of insects in food and feed, relative to such risks posed by the use of other protein sources used in food or feed.

In agreement with the EC, this opinion has the format of a risk profile including considerations of hazards associated with insects as food and feed, placed in the context of hazards associated with other sources of protein. The mandate also considers potential risks arising from importation of insects and products of insects from countries outside the EU, but not the importation of live insects. Health or welfare of insects, hazards related to insects harvested from the wild, nutritional value of insects as food and feed and occupational hazards are outside the scope of this opinion.

This opinion is based on data from peer reviewed scientific literature, assessments performed at Member State level and information from relevant stakeholders that were invited to provide information as hearing experts at a working group meeting. All data and information are compiled in the format of a risk profile. The risk profile addresses biological hazards (bacteria, viruses, parasites, fungi, prions), chemical hazards (heavy metals, toxins, veterinary drugs, hormones and others) as well as allergens and hazards related to the environment.

It is concluded that for both biological and chemical hazards, 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 opinion addresses the potential occurrence of hazards in non-processed insects, grown on different substrate groups, in comparison to the occurrence in other non-processed sources of protein of animal origin.

When currently allowed feed materials are used as substrate to feed insects, the possible occurrence of microbiological hazards is expected to be comparable to their occurrence in other non-processed sources of protein of animal origin. The possible occurrence of prions in non-processed insects will depend on whether the substrate includes protein of human or ruminant origin. Data on transfer of chemical contaminants from different substrates to the insects are very limited. Other relevant substrates and the possible occurrence of hazards are considered and summarised in the opinion. Substrates like human and animal manure are also considered. For both biological and chemical hazards their possible occurrence in non-processed insects fed on such substrates needs to be specifically assessed.

The environmental risk of insect farming is expected to be comparable to other animal production systems. Insect waste may contain insects and insect material. The adoption of existing waste management strategies should be applicable for managing waste from insect production. Assessment of the individual production systems will determine the precise strategy to be adopted on a case by case basis.

The opinion also notes the knowledge gaps and uncertainty related to possible hazards when insects are used as food and feed and concludes that there are no systematically collected data on animal and human consumption of insects. Also, there are only a few studies on the occurrence of microbials potentially pathogenic for vertebrates as well as published data on hazardous chemicals in reared insects.

Further research for better assessment of microbiological and chemical risks from insects as food and feed including studies on the occurrence of hazards when using particular substrates, like food waste and manure is recommended.

(Source: EFSA Website)

Food recalls in EU – Week 25/2015

This week on the EU RASFF (Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed) we can find the following notifications:

1. Alerts followed by a recall from consumers:

Allergens: undeclared soya and celery  in canned vegetable ravioli in tomato & herb sauce from Belgium, following an official control on the market. Notified by United Kingdom;

– FCM (Food Contact Materials). Heavy metals: migration of cadmium (mean value 0.63 mg/item) and of lead (mean value: 5.6 mg/item) from tumblers from China, following an official control on the market. Notified by Poland, distributed also to Estonia, Russia and Ukraine;

– Pathogenic micro-organisms: Salmonella spp. (presence/25g) in sausages from Spain, following company’s own check. Notified by France.

2. Information for attention/for follow up followed by a recall from consumers:

– Food additives and flavourings: unauthorised use of colour E 127 – erythrosine (56 mg/kg – ppm) in cupcakes from South Africa, following an official control on the market. Notified by Belgium, distributed also to France, Luxembourg and Netherlands;

– Non pathogenic micro-organisms: cranberry juice from Denmark infested with moulds, following a consumer complaint. Notified by Denmark, distributed also to Germany, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.

3. Alerts followed by a withdrawal from the market/from recipients:

– Allergens: undeclared milk ingredient, soya and lactose in acai ice covered with chocolate from Slovakia, following company’s own check. Notified by Netherlands, distributed also to Belgium;

– Allergens: undeclared milk ingredient (protein: 7.2; 13.5 mg/kg – ppm) in biscuits with orange jelly from Poland, following an official control on the market. Notified by Spain;

– Foreign bodies: glass fragments in chilled raw pork meat from Spain, following company’s own check. Notified by France

– Mycotoxins: fumonisins (B1: 2319.84; sum of FB1, FB2: 2642.47 µg/kg – ppb) in popcorn from Hungary, following an official control on the market. Notified by Slovakia;

– Pathogenic micro-organisms: Listeria monocytogenes (140/g) in cheese with bacon from Spain, following an official control on the market. Notified by Netherlands, distributed also to Belgium;

– Pathogenic micro-organisms: Listeria monocytogenes ( in raw milk cheese from France, following company’s own check. Notified by France, distributed also to Belgium and United Kingdom;

– Pathogenic micro-organisms: Salmonella spp. (presence/25g) in chilled ham from France, following company’s own check. Notified by France, distributed also to Switzerland and United Kingdom.

4. Seizures:

– In Norway we had a seizure for unauthorised placing on the market of cod liver oil, following an official control on the market. Notified by Norway, distributed also to Denmark and Finland;

– In United Kingdom, we had a seizure for illegal import of mint from Vietnam, following a border control. Notified by United Kingdom.

5. Border rejections:

  • acetamiprid (0.092 mg/kg – ppm) and dimethoate (0.34 mg/kg – ppm) in tea from China
  • aflatoxins (B1 = 21.50; Tot. = 23.58 µg/kg – ppb) in pistachios from Turkey and from Iran, via Turkey (Tot. = 47.5 µg/kg – ppb)
  • aflatoxins (B1 = 251; Tot. = 284 µg/kg – ppb) in rice from Thailand
  • aflatoxins (B1 = 4.5 µg/kg – ppb) in groundnuts from China
  • clothianidin (0.22 mg/kg – ppm) in chili peppers from the Dominican Republic
  • dried apricots from Turkey infested with moulds
  • fenamiphos (0.167 mg/kg – ppm) in sweet peppers from Turkey
  • live insects in basmati rice from India
  • mandipropamid (0.052 mg/kg – ppm) in fresh pea pods from Kenya
  • FCM (Food Contact Materials): migration of chromium (6.2 mg/kg – ppm) and of manganese (2.2 mg/kg – ppm) from steel tools for barbecue from China
  • FCM (Food Contact Materials) too high content of chromium (0.4 mg/kg – ppm) in tongs for spaghetti from China
  • omethoate (0.03 mg/kg – ppm) in mangos from Brazil
  • poor temperature control (>-12 °C) of frozen chicken from Ukraine
  • Salmonella spp. (presence /25g) in betel/paan leaves, sesame seeds and hulled sesame seeds from India
  • shigatoxin-producing Escherichia coli (stx+ and eae+) in chilled boneless beef from Brazil
  • unauthorised irradiation (thermoluminescence) of red rice extract from China
  • unauthorised substance anthraquinone (0.047 mg/kg – ppm) in black tea from China
  • unauthorised substance carbendazim (1.3 mg/kg – ppm) in dragon fruits
  • unauthorised substance chlorfenapyr (0.017 mg/kg – ppm) in papayas from Brazil
  • unauthorised substance dichlorvos (0.18 mg/kg – ppm) in dried beans from Nigeria