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Novel foods: allergenicity assessment of insect proteins

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Insects represent a promising source of proteins and have been reported as a great potential for being used as novel food and feed proteins. This makes them a valuable source of nutrients to face the increasing demand of food necessitated by the growing global population. The current European food legislation on novel food (EU Reg. 2015/2283), which entered into force in 2018, provides the provisions that should be considered in the applications for the authorisation of novel foods in the European market. Insects, intended as an alternative source of food proteins for human consumption, are considered novel foods. Since food allergens are mostly proteins, the analysis and identification of the potential allergenicity of novel proteins should be a fundamental activity that enables the applicants to fulfil the requirements for the application and authorisation to bring a novel food into the European market and ensures a high level of food safety for the European consumers. The main aims of the work of the EU‐FORA fellow were to: (i) Review, assess and identify gaps in the current strategies for predicting allergenicity of novel foods and new alternative protein sources; and (ii) Familiarise, understand and perform an allergenicity assessment of a novel food protein source by: (a) Working on an allergenicity assessment case study of insect proteins from black soldier fly larva (Hermetia Illucens); and (b) Taking into consideration other risk assessment aspects of insects as novel food, including toxicological, nutritional and microbial risks. The project contributed to the continuous learning of the fellow on practical assays and methodologies for the in silico, in vitro and in vivo analysis principles and complemented personal skills related to the food risk assessment requirement for the preparation and submission of an application for authorisation of a novel food.

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