Insects Thailand
The SFA has taken reference from countries such as Thailand, which have allowed the consumption of certain insect species (Pic: Wikimedia Commons)

Singapore may introduce insects as food for humans and livestock

There may be some new dishes on the plates of Singaporeans very soon. The Singapore Food Agency (SFA) has sought feedback from the food and animal feed industry on allowing insects for human consumption and as livestock feed.

The SFA conducted a thorough scientific review and assessed that certain species of insects, with a history of human consumption, can be allowed for use as food, The Straits Times newspaper on Sunday quoted a spokesperson as saying.

Snacks or protein bars

The SFA has taken reference from the European Union and countries such as Australia, New Zealand, South Korea, and Thailand, which have allowed the consumption of certain insect species. For instance, silkworm pupae are traditionally eaten in South Korea, and crickets, in Thailand.

Also read: World’s food and nutrition security can be met by eating insects

The move could potentially allow people in Singapore to consume species such as crickets, beetles, moths and bees, the report said. These can be consumed directly or turned into items such as fried insect snacks or protein bars, the report said.

The regulation of these insects—whether imported or locally farmed—and insect products would be subject to food safety requirements and conditions.

FAO focus on insects

In recent years, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has promoted the commercial farming of insects for human consumption and as animal feed. That has drawn commercial interest, too, the SFA said.

According to the FAO, such a move is important to feed the world’s growing population sustainably. Edible insects have high nutrient content, require less feed, and emit fewer greenhouse gases compared to farmed livestock.

Also read: Global Hunger Index 2022: India slips further, ranks 107 of 121 countries

“SFA keeps abreast of such developments in food production and innovations and has received industry queries on the import of insects as food or animal feed,” the report quoted the spokesperson as saying.

Strict regulation

More than 10 companies have reportedly expressed interest in insect food product imports or farming already. To ensure safety, companies must show proof that the imported insects are farmed in regulated establishments and the feed is not contaminated with pathogens or harmful contaminants.

Insect species without a history of human consumption would be considered novel foods, and companies would need to conduct and submit safety assessments for SFA’s review, the report said.

Industry players in Singapore have welcomed the move, it added.

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