Insects may soon be approved for food consumption in Singapore

Insects like silkworm pupae (left) and crickets are traditional food in parts of Asia. (PHOTOS: Getty Images/Reuters)
Insects like silkworm pupae (left) and crickets are traditional food in parts of Asia. (PHOTOS: Getty Images/Reuters)

SINGAPORE — Insects could be making their way into local food menus, after the Singapore Food Agency (SFA) assessed that some of them can be allowed for food consumption.

The agency said in a media release on Sunday (16 October) that it has received interest from more than 10 insect-food product or farming companies enquiring on the import of insects as food or animal feed.

"(SFA has) conducted a thorough scientific review, and assessed that specific species of insects with a history of human consumption can be allowed for use as food," it said in the media release.

It added that several species of edible insects have traditionally been eaten in parts of Asia, such as silkworm pupae in Korea, and crickets in Thailand.

"In recent years, the commercial farming of insects for human consumption and animal feed has been promoted by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and has received commercial interest," SFA said.

"SFA has taken reference from the European Union and countries such as Australia, New Zealand, Korea and Thailand which have allowed the consumption of certain insect species as food."

Requirements to safeguard food safety

To safeguard food safety, the agency plans to put in place requirements on companies planning to import or farm insects for food consumption:

  • The companies must provide documentary proof that the imported insects are farmed in regulated establishments with food safety controls, and ensure that the substrate used for rearing or feeding insects is not contaminated.

  • Insect species without a history of human consumption are considered novel food and companies would be required to conduct and submit safety assessments for SFA’s review, before they can be allowed for sale.

  • Insect products would be subjected to food safety testing.

SFA is seeking feedback on the import conditions and additional pre-licensing requirements for insects and insect products. The public consultation will end on 4 December.

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