Literature review for risk assessment of insects

Ida Elisabeth Berggreen, Annette Nygaard Jensen, Kim Jensen, Heidi Amlund

Research output: Memorandum/expositionMemorandum

21 Downloads (Pure)


The Danish production of protein is limited, causing a need for importing large amounts of plant-based proteins. However, farmed insects provide an alternative source of protein in feedstuff for livestock, which can help to meet the increasing demands of proteins worldwide and limit the negative impact from import of soya. Currently, rearing of insects in EU is constrained by the legislation requirements of using feedgrade substrates only, but the economic feasibility and not least sustainability could be improved significantly by allowing by-products and food residues that for now are considered as waste or unsafe. This includes kitchen and food waste, former foodstuff of vegetable origin which is spoiled by e.g., molds and/or contains packaging materials as well as former foodstuff with animal content (fish or meat). However, it is essential that any substrate used for rearing of insects does not pose a risk for the insect them-selves, animals and humans feeding on insects as well as the environment.
The purpose of this literature review is to collect information on the existing knowledge on the safety of rearing insects for food and feed if various none-feed-grade organic materials would be applied as substrates for the insects. The review shall help to identify gaps regarding the research needed to document that certain none-feed grade by-products and residues can be applied safely as substrate for insects without posing a risk and thereby open for relaxation of the current EU regulations on feed for insects.
The hazards addressed in this review are based on the EFSA report from 2015 “Risk profile related to production and consumption of insects as food and feed” and a memorandum from the DTU Food Institute (Fareprofil for substrater til insektopdræt; Danger profile for substrates for insect breeding, 2018, in Danish only). The current review is based on recent scientific papers published after the 2018 memorandum, and include papers found in a literature search from 2021 (Jensen et al. 2022) and a new literature search made in 2022.
Based on the literature review, a research plan has been made to pinpoint which knowledge gabs should be further addressed, to be able to assess whether it is safe to feed insects with kitchen food waste, former food, and residual products with packaging residues, including spoiled feed. Even though studies have been made on transfer and accumulation of the hazards mentioned in the reviews, more studies are needed on several compounds e.g., pesticides, PFAS and compounds in food contact materials. Moreover, research is needed on the substrate in relation to applicability (volume and suitability for the insect), characterization of the microbiological quality, effect of storage conditions and effect of different treatment methods. In addition, more research is needed in relation to the treatment of insects to control microbial load.
Original languageEnglish
Publication date2023
Number of pages35
Project No.2022-0367071
ApplicantDanish Veterinary and Food Administration
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Publication series

NameAdvisory memorandum from DCA – Danish Centre for Food and Agriculture


Dive into the research topics of 'Literature review for risk assessment of insects'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this