Woven Newsletter No.1 – October 2015

Welcome to the first Woven Newsletter. We hope that this will grow into a publication that will allow members of the group to exchange ideas and keep each other informed of developments as they happen in this rapidly expanding field. If you have news, either relating to the wider field of insects as food or feed or details of a project that you are running, please write a paragraph or a longer article for this newsletter.

Please send us a message about future contributions, marking it as “Woven Newsletter”.

We look forward to your contributions.

Peter Smithers (Editor)

Notes on the Situation in Brussels following a discussion with Rhonda at Minerva

The European Commission has asked for an assessment of the relative safety of insects as food and feed compared with other alternative sources of protein. This is quite a specific question and begs lots of other questions.

The report on this should be delivered by mid-September and may well not give a definitive advice as there are clearly lots of research questions still to answer.

The EC will then need more time, probably until early 2016 before it decides what to do and then it will take time to introduce any new legislation, etc.

During that period European Member States will be able to express their opinion on what EC should do, so we could seek to persuade the UK Government to take a position. This will have some influence over the EC.

— Nick Rousseau

News from the FSA

Currently Entomophagy (insect eating), is in on the increase as is indeed being seen an alternative food source of protein. To date there have been no insect-based products that have been considered before the committee. Currently, whole animals including insects do not fall within the scope of the Novel Foods Regulation whilst the consumption of parts of insects do fall under it. This is due to the current wording of the text of the regulation which captures products isolated from animals but not whole animals themselves. By whole, we would interpret this to mean the intact animal or insect with no parts removed, not even wings or legs, etc. The whole animal can also be ground up or milled into flour and this would also not be classed as novel. Products isolated from whole animals, for example proteins or other extracts would be classed as novel. If parts of insects were to be marketed in the EU, for example insects with wings or legs removed, we would regard these as novel foods and unless evidence of a significant history of its consumption in Europe was provided to us, authorisation would be required under the Novel Foods Regulation (EC) 258/97.

This situation is due to change with future amendments to the Regulation. A proposition is in the works at the FSA which would allow for quicker approval of novels EU foods with a significant traditional history of consumption in other countries. This proposed regulation will be highly beneficial to insect eating in the UK as there is a strong history of consumption in other parts of the world such as Asia and Africa. The FSA has predicted that this new “Third Country” approval process may be in place later this year or early next year, with a two year transition period.

As provisions of this new approval process as still being finalised there is no clear information on what will be required with regards to data under this process.

Woven is in active contact with the FSA about this issue in an effort to present a strong combined front for the key entomophagy players in the UK. We are waiting for clarification from the FSA on two key points 1) Ultimately which data will be required for this new approval process 2) If within the two year transition period businesses will still be allowed to market insect products.

We also at this time request that you do not individually contact FSA, but rather we want to show them that we are a united group of entrepreneurs and researchers working together. If you have any questions regarding the FSA contact please get in touch.

Insect Events

October 2015

Future of Food Production Workshop, 21st Oct, IDEALondon:https://www.re-work.co/workshops/foodprod-2015

  • Workshop to bring together scientists, innovators, and entrepreneurs to explore how advancing technology will impact the future of the food industry. Topics include: Precision Agriculture, Climates-smart Farming, Crop & Livestock Future, Internet of Farm Things, Urban Farming.

World Edible Insect Day (WEID), 23rd Oct: 


Can you organise an event to raise the profile of edible insects on the first ever World Edible Insect Day? Follow the link above to see what other people are doing across the world.

December 2015

Insects as Food and Feed: A UK-based Academic Workshop, 4th Dec., Oxford University:

  • The GB Sasakawa Foundation has provided funding for this event, which will include 8 oral presentations and 10 posters, spanning four areas of research: Health, growth and nutrition; Sustainability and environmental impact; Psychology, well-being and marketing; Welfare, ethics and legislation.
  • Presenters will come from across Europe, and represent a broad range of academic disciplines and institutions. The event will conclude with a panel discussion on future priorities in research on edible insects, followed by closing remarks from Kenichi Nonaka, a Japan-based researcher who has studied insect eating traditions worldwide for nearly 30 years.
  • The day will also include a live demonstration of 3D printing using insect paste, and a selection of insect-based foods made by a local, Oxford-based catering team. We will follow up with a collaborative paper discussing the issues raised during the day and informed by the panel discussion. Attendance is free of charge, and we hope to see attendees from a broad range of academic disciplines.

April 2016

Joint Meeting of Woven, Royal Entomological Society and University of Nottingham, Insects as Food and Feed: The Way Forward, 11th April 2016, University of Nottingham:

  • In light of the changing FSA regulations this meeting will serve as a platform to identify key barriers to moving forward and to establish at which stages research in the key barrier areas is.
  • Participants will be sought to present research and ideas on solutions to barriers and ways forward to current challenges.
  • Contributions will be invited from those working across diverse areas of: social and natural sciences, commercials organisations and legal/policy-oriented roles. Follow the link above for more information.

Insect Research

Edible Insects and the Future of Food

This document reports on the findings of a small project in which the tools of Foresight were used to think about the potential of edible insects to contribute to global food security in a future global food system. It is available as a free download at http://www.ids.ac.uk/publication/edible-insects-and-the-future-of-food-a-foresight-scenario-exercise-on-entomophagy-and-global-food-security

For more information contact Dr. Dominic Glover | Research Fellow | Institute of Development Studies at the University of Sussex

Edible Insects and the Future of Food: A Foresight Scenario Exercise on Entomophagy and Global Food Security

Questions and Correspondence

Louise Rezler has a short questionnaire she always uses when testing new products and would be interested to work with others to develop a common instrument that everyone could use so that we can collate data from across the UK and for different products. If you are interested in taking part (including if you have survey expertise) can you contact us and we will arrange a discussion/meeting with Louise to agree how to take this forward.

Hot Buzz

Image Credits: WEID, IDS, Hot Buzz

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