Insects in food and feed – allergenicity risk assessment and analytical detection
Insects and insect‐based food products have entered in the European market, carrying along issues of safety and the need of establishing a new legal framework. The consumption of massively reared insects can pose chemical and microbiological risks, and insect proteins are likely to represent a hazard for a subpopulation of allergic individuals. All insect‐based products are considered ‘Novel Food’ and fall under EU regulation 2015/2283, according to which a specific application to the European Commission, followed by EFSA scientific evaluation, is needed before the product is put on the market. The recent EU Regulation 2017/893, entered into force on 1 July 2017, allowed a shortlist of seven insect species to be included in the formulation of feeds for aquaculture. Previously, the addition of any insect to any feed for farmed animals was not allowed, due to the risk of prion‐derived diseases. The introduction of this new Regulation raises the issue to switch from a classical detection method based on microscopy to a more sophisticated and species‐specific method. The overall aims of this EU‐FORA project were (i) to set up a new next generation sequencing (NGS)‐based molecular method for the identification of insect DNA in feeds for aquaculture; and (ii) to carry out a conceptual work on a probabilistic quantitative risk assessment focused on the allergenicity of yellow mealworm (Tenebrio molitor) employed in foods.