Posted on Leave a comment

Representing Edible Insects in Parliament

 

As part of Nottingham Day in Parliament on 25 October, a team from Woven Network travelled to Westminster to represent and promote edible insects in the Houses of Parliament.

Woven Managing Director Nick Rousseau (Unconventional Connections) and Woven members Tony Askins (Next Step Foods) and Ross Bell (Kric8) were on hand to promote members’ products and the exciting potential of our growing UK-based edible insect industry.

img_1964

Speaking to a representative of the Food Standards Agency, Tony received the impression that Brexit has “the potential to facilitate a smoother progression through the novel food process”, as any decisions and requirements of the FSA will presumably not have to be ratified by other EU members or the EFSA (European Food Safety Authority).

He was also informed that the Conservative government “could be good for the industry, as they are pro-entrepreneurship and less keen on regulations that might get in the way of business”.

img_1951

Nick Rousseau had this to say:

We turned up at the “Green Room” which was on the other side of the square opposite the Houses of Parliament and set out our stall.  It was very impressive and the largest selection of insect-based food products I had certainly ever seen – possibly the largest in the UK.  We had everything from whole insects, flour, insect flavoured snacks, bars (with pieces to taste), pasta and pasta sauce as well as the Eat Grub recipe book and various bits of literature.

We all went over for the talk and discussion about the future of food in one of the rooms in Parliament, giving us a chance to see what it is like on the inside.  Very grand!  As a result of my lobbying, one of the University lecturers talked about insects and the potential role they could play, which I was able to pick up on along with a number of others in the Q&A.  Certainly some interest and I emphasised that there are plenty of successful products already on the market.

I had two conversations following the talk with the Chair of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (levy organisation) and Sat Bains the chef – who agreed to talk to me later about experimenting with insects in his restaurant.

img_1967

Comments from the day’s feedback form included:

Coffee and Vanilla, Dark Chocolate – both tasted okay, but in my mind I can’t get over the yuck factor, sorry!

Kric8 – dry roasted crickets. Tastier than I expected!  I like the texture!

Crunchy insects are great especially crickets –delicious!

Very tasty – liked the honey and mustard – get them in the high Street!

If only more people had an opportunity to try these innovative products – Excellent.  Why not book a stall at Sutton Bonnington Farmers Market at UoN SB Campus?

Woven Network plan to be involved with similar events in the future, and will be promoting insects as food and feed at Food Matters Live 22-24 November.

woven-logo-featured-image-parliament

Interested in joining Woven Network? Click here for full details of our membership packages.

And if you’re interested in trying some tasty insect snacks, visit our Marketplace to order your roasted crickets, energy bars, protein powders and more!

Posted on 4 Comments

FSA Novel Foods Workshop

Food Standards Agency - Featured Image

Today I attended the FSA workshop on Novel Foods Regulations, with Neil Whippey of Eat Grub.  It was a really useful and informative although we came away with some challenges for the fledgling UK insects for food sector (insects for feed was not in scope).

Full report will follow as an in-depth article for Woven members (see membership offer coming out soon).

A few highlights:

  • There is a £4,000 fee for applying for Novel Food approval and you have to submit one for each individual product that has a distinct risk profile
  • There is scope to secure a blanket approval relating to an ingredient but this would potentially need to be very tightly defined  – this could mean multiple companies securing this together, or Woven acting on their behalf, to share the costs
  • You can trade now and manufacture, market and sell products with whole insect material.  From January 2018 when the new regulations come in you will only be able to continue if you are in the process of working through a Novel Foods application – but this process can take up to 18m and you can trade throughout.
  • The potential for insect materials in foods to cause allergic reactions needs research and careful thought.  Woven will seek to work with its members and the FSA to ensure that the right balance is struck between risks and benefits and we have secured some champions within the FSA and the committee that advises them, with whom we will maintain a positive relationship.

So, definitely a worthwhile event and further signs that Woven Network is going to be critical if this sector is to succeed in the UK.

Nick