Singapore reviewing import of 16 insects for food

PHOTO: Singapore considering 16 insects to import for food. (via BBC)

A host of new insects are up for approval to be imported into Singapore for human consumption. The Singapore Food Agency is reviewing 16 separate insects and insect products that can be imported now for use in animal feed and for people to eat. It may sound disgusting, but the insects underwent thorough scientific review before approval according to the SFA.

The agency specifically selected types of insects that have been eaten by humans in the past to approve, according to Channel News Asia. Things like beetles, silkworms, mealworms, grasshoppers, crickets, honey bees and moths have a history of people eating them for sustenance and were included in the list approved for import.

The idea of pushing insects as animal feed and human food is not new, though, the Food and Agriculture Organisation has been promoting it for years. The FAO, a department of the United Nations, met in Chiang Mai in 2008 to discuss the benefits of eating insects in the world. They noted that 36 African nations eat bugs, as well as 29 countries in Asia and 23 in the Americas. Thailand eats over 200 different types of insects and a total of 1,400 different species are consumed worldwide.

Dried insects can contain twice the protein of fish or meat, and many are full of vitamins and minerals. It has been theorised that world hunger could be ended if civilisation adopted eating insects commonly.

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There are over 10 companies already planning to farm insects or import them once the review has been approved. There will first need to be food safety requirements applied to insects before they can be imported and distributed for human consumption. No contaminants or pathogens can be used in farming and feeding the insects to be imported. Bug farms must have food safety controls in regulated establishments. This will bring insects in line with all food imported into Singapore that must pass food and safety testing.

The SFA has opened the review to public feedback as well as input from industries that handle animal feed or human food. The conditions of import and pre-licencing requirements must also be determined. Any entity that wants to import any insects for human or animal consumption that isn’t on the list will have to conduct independent studies to prove safety before getting approval.

World News

Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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