It was a good year for the consumer insect (although the insect itself may think otherwise). After the mealworm and the grasshopper, the cricket also received approval from the European Commission in 2021 to act as ’novel food’ be authorized for human consumption.
This was good news for the Dutch company Protix, among others, because it is a lot of hassle and a long process to get a new food type through the EU machinery. It means that after examining scientific research provided by the manufacturer itself, the product has been found to be safe for human consumption. The EFSA, the highest European food authority, allows mealworms, grasshoppers and crickets to be processed ‘frozen, dried and in powder form’ in both food and animal feed. They have been allowed in animal feeds for some time.
Even without official EU approval, insects for human consumption in all kinds of culinary initiatives have been tolerated in Europe for some time. It would have been crazy if that wasn’t the case, because insects have been eaten worldwide for thousands of years. They are also a good source of minerals.
Insects have everything and take advantage of the magic words that surround the production. They are interesting alternatives in the protein transition. They have a smaller footprint than other animal sources of protein. They are fed with residual flows and therefore the cultivation may circular to be named. In that respect, they are approaching plant products, in particular soy, which is also a extended protein profile has and excellent meat can to replace. Unfortunately, the cultivation of soy is often problematic due to forest clearing and the use of glyphosate. This gives the waste-eating insects a moral advantage.
Protix is one of the companies that pioneered the breeding, breeding and processing of insects and that developed various initiatives to produce and apply sustainable insect protein. The insects (larvae) are fed with residual flows from the food industry and supply high-quality proteins that can be added to foods. This innovation in protein production has already generated a nice file on Foodlog. Much is expected in the food industry, but consumer acceptance is not going very smoothly. This appears to be the most important hurdle to be overcome.
Fillets from the chickens that had been fed larvae were judged by unwitting buyers to be better than those containing algae or soy. If the packaging stated what the feed contained, only consumers who consider sustainability important chose the fillets with insects
A Finnish research published in October, it assessed insect protein for its potential to reduce the carbon footprint of European food production. This works best if the insects are used directly for human consumption. But it is also useful as an addition to animal feed, which can also consist of residual flows. The research focused in particular on broilers. Because they have to grow much faster than laying hens, those chickens need a lot of protein. Luckily they are not whole fussy. Those who keep chickens in their garden know that the animals are scrubbing lovers of insects of all shapes and sizes, from worms and beetles to flies and maggots.
The past decade has shown a lot of culinary creativity to get consumers used to mealworm sandwiches, crispy fried crickets as an appetizer or sushi and salads with grasshoppers. MissetHoreca gives a Overview of all those well-intentioned and perhaps quite tasty preparations. Most of these are smothered in good intentions. After all these years, we were not tempted in any of the festive commercials this Christmas with – name something – a tasty tapenade with black soldier fly. Dutch supermarkets stopped offering products containing insects at the beginning of last year. The customer was not ready for the mealworm burger.
The question is therefore where the middle ground lies between optimal sustainable use, consumer acceptance and profitable exploitation of insect proteins. In that connection writes FoodNavigator about a
poll from German and Canadian researchers among supermarket customers who buy chicken breast from broilers. Those chickens were partly fed with spirulina (a commonly used type of algae) and partly with larvae of the black soldier fly, and also with soy and residual stream waste.
A group of a thousand participants was ‘fed’ different information about the fillets. If no mention was made of the additives to the feed on the packaging, then the consumer (probably) did not object. However, the spirulina chicken breast is darker in color, which is unappealing to white meat. Fillets from the chickens that had been fed larvae were judged by unwitting buyers to be better than those containing algae or soy. If the packaging stated what the feed contained, only consumers who consider sustainability important chose the fillets with insects.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the aversion was greater when more information was given about the product. Nevertheless, the researchers believe that there should be complete transparency about the food on the packaging. Because only then will acceptance grow. A favorable price can of course help.
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Chicken loves insects – Only ‘conscious’ people like insect-fed chicken – Foodlog