SFA Considering Allowing Insects For Human Consumption In S’pore, Seeks Public Feedback

SFA May Allow Importation & Sale Of Insects For Food In Singapore

While the thought of eating insects may fill some people with revulsion, they’re actually said to be a good source of nutrients.

Those who’ve visited the now-closed Donghuamen Night Market in Beijing might remember the many stalls selling bugs on sticks.

The Singapore Food Agency (SFA) is now considering allowing insects to be imported for human consumption here.

Source: Mark Busse on Flickr

They’re currently seeking feedback on the proposal.

SFA to allow importation & sale of insects if conditions are met

In a consultation document released on 4 Oct, SFA said they’ve completed a review of the regulatory position for insects and insect products.

With that, the agency will allow the import and sale of insects and insect products for human consumption, as well as animal feed, if certain conditions are met.

This move will mean that industries will have more flexibility to produce insects in a safe and sustainable way, particularly in the range of substrates (i.e. insect food) that may be used.

Singapore consumers will also be able to eat safe insect food products.

Source: Nigel Hoult on Flickr

16 insect species approved for human consumption

To that end, 16 insect species have been listed as “approved for human consumption”, including a few varieties of crickets, worms, moths and even the honey bee.

Check out the full list here:

Source: SFA

Currently, the importation and sale of insects as food for human consumption are not allowed in Singapore.

The importation and sale of animal feed that contains insects are permitted, but only certain substrates are approved on insects for animal feed.

Imported & locally farmed insects must satisfy SFA conditions

According to SFA, imported and locally farmed insects will be subject to food safety requirements and conditions.

For example, imported insects for human consumption will need to have health certificates proving that they were not harvested from the wild and that feeding substrates like manure and decomposing organic material were not used.

Additional pre-licensing requirements for local insect farms include processes to kill pathogens before the insect products are deemed fit for human consumption.

All imported and farmed insects must be on the list of approved species.

Over 10 companies have expressed interest

More than 10 companies have already expressed interest in importing insect food products or farming insects for food, SFA told The Straits Times (ST).

SFA is also monitoring similar developments across the world, they said.

For example, they’ve taken reference from the European Union (EU) and countries like Australia, New Zealand, South Korea and Thailand, which have allowed the consumption of certain insect species.

They also noted that the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has promoted commercial farming of insects for human consumption and animal feed.

The FAO has said many benefits to eating insects, including their high nutrient content, low feed requirement and emission of fewer greenhouse gases.

Source: schwarzey on Flickr

Thus, it’s a way to feed the world’s population sustainably.

SFA seeking feedback

Nevertheless, SFA is seeking feedback from the food and animal feed industry, as well as interested parties on the move.

They may also share views and comments on the import conditions and additional pre-licensing requirements for insect importation and production.

Those who’d like to contribute may email SFA at low_yi_lin@sfa.gov.sg or chin_xiu_wen@sfa.gov.sg.

If snail mail is preferred, the mailing address is:

Risk Management & Surveillance Department
Joint Operations Division
Singapore Food Agency
52 Jurong Gateway Road #14-01
Singapore 608550
(Attention: Ms Low Yi Lin)

The deadline for submissions is 4 Dec at 6pm.

Overcoming the ‘ick’ factor first

As Singapore seeks to secure our food security, turning to insects is an interesting idea indeed.

After all, sustainable and cheap food production sounds like a good way to ensure Singaporeans will fill their stomachs for decades to come.

However, many of us will probably have to overcome the “ick” factor before letting bugs near our mouths.

Perhaps next time we find bugs in our food order, we should thank our lucky stars rather than complain.

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Featured image adapted from Mark Busse on Flickr

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