CFIA studies use of insects as livestock feed

Different insects have different properties, and their desirability as a feed source depends on how they are reared

Insects are an important food source for other species in the food chain and they are now being more thoroughly explored as a nutrient source for livestock.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency is studying the safety and efficacy of insect-derived feed ingredients and is accepting public comments on the concept until Aug. 17.

“Feed ingredients derived from insects can be suitable sources of nutrients for feeding to various livestock species. In some cases, insects have the potential to be used for the production of feed ingredients from a biomass that contains 40 to 45 percent protein and up to 35 percent fat,” the CFIA says in its background information.

Different insects have different properties, however, and their desirability as a feed source also depends on how they are reared and in what manner. Given the variation, each must undergo a safety and efficacy assessment, the CFIA said.

Physical, chemical and biological hazards must be identified for each insect product. Those range from packing materials and growth substrate to toxins in the insect itself, as well as pathogens or bacterial contaminants they or their growth medium may carry.

In its background material, the CFIA has outlined proposals for labelling, identification, product claims and protection from various hazards, among other data.

“The purpose of the feed assessment is to ensure that the feed ingredient is safe in terms of animal health, human health (safety of foods derived from livestock consuming the ingredient and worker/bystander exposure), and the environment. The nutritional purpose of the ingredient is assessed to determine its effect on the growth and production performance of the intended livestock species,” the document says.

Its consultation is focused on feed ingredient suppliers, manufacturers, importers, livestock industry associations, international trading partners and veterinarians. Comments from the public are also welcome, the CFIA says.

Details are available here.

Canada has a number of insect growing operations, among them Enterra Feed, which grows black soldier flies to feed fish and poultry. Reuters has also reported that McDonald’s is exploring the use of insects in chicken feed to reduce reliance on soy protein.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has been exploring the world of edible insects for human consumption since 2003 and notes their use in livestock feed doesn’t face the same cultural constraints as it does in people. Thus it holds promise as a replacement for more expensive protein and nutrient sources.

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