July 2020 Newsletter N0 35

Webinar Series

Having had a productive and interesting webinar discussion with quite a few questions answered by Ben Kennedy, invertebrate veterinarian, we have decided to run a series of Webinars on the theme of “Ask the Expert”.  We have secured the participation of a very varied group of individuals who are happy to give their time, discuss their current work and answer questions.

Next Webinars, Fridays at 12:00 BST (UTC+1)


18 Sept - Arnold Van Huis, Professor of Tropical Entomology at Wageningen University in the Netherlands

16 Oct - Robert Nathan Allen, Founder and Director of Little Herds, Austin, Texas, Director North American Coalition for Insect Agriculture

Webinar, Friday 18 June 2020

This first webinar took on a theme of safety. There were three speakers and participant discussion moderated by Nick Rousseau.

Jo Gould began by describing her work with UK Government Agritech aid in Nigeria, where insects can help the structure of food and have a long shelf life. Weevils are plentiful, but wild harvest of crickets is difficult to obtain for commercial production. The risks of bacteria, chemicals, heavy metals insecticide pesticide, allergens, denuding wild animals, are combated by introducing hygiene practices and processing to make products safe sustainable and nutritions. An insect farm associated with the University of Lagos incorporates insects into food and is seeking collaborators. 

Ben Kennedy raised the risks of a novel food where allergic potential is not known, You eat intestines with whole insects, requiring careful processing. Ataxia syndrome may follow thiamine breakdown, and botulism can develop during storage if not controlled during processing. He made a distinction between wild and farmed insects, wild insects being vectors for pathogens and removing them the lowest echelons of an ecosystem can have dramatic deleterious effects. Farmed insects can be packed closely in large numbers making them vulnerable to transfer of disease, and susceptible to faults in control of the environment. Standards to include insect welfare and humane killing are required in insect production.

Thomas Constant of BeoBia, is launching a pod for home production of mealworms pictured later in this newsletter. The 5 tier pod allows sustainable edible mealworm production at home, and offers a means of dealing with kitchen waste even if there is no garden. Educational use in the classroom is possible.

There followed a discussion in which Ben Kennedy illustrated with histological slides of inclusion bodies in insects that surviving and thriving may not be the same. The platform worked satisfactorily and there is a recording of the webinar on the Woven Network website.

ADAS Stakeholder Survey - Insects as Feed

ADAS agricultural and environmental consultancy are currently undertaking a project with World Wildlife Fund-UK and Tesco to develop a roadmap for the scaling up of insect protein production for use in animal feed. You can find out more in the ADAS news article.
As part of the project, ADAS are engaging with stakeholders across the industry, insect producers, feed suppliers, farmers, processors, researchers, waste stream owners, regulators etc., to identify the challenges and opportunities of scaling the production of insects for animal feed, as well as the barriers that might need to be overcome, and the solutions that could address these. These might include legislative changes to allow the use of other substrates, monetary incentives or government schemes, technological changes or advances, and social or behavioural changes.
We invite you to participate in this study by responding to our online survey. We welcome as many perspectives and experiences as possible.
>> To start the survey, please go to:
The deadline for responses is Thursday 30th July 2020. The information collected will be aggregated and anonymised. ADAS will use the data and information collected to develop a range of recommendations that could be implemented to allow the scaling up of insects as an alternative novel protein for use in animal feed, which could reduce the reliance on fishmeal and soybean meal.

For more information, please contact the ADAS project lead:


Insect burger

Essento have introduced an insect burger to add to their insect snacks and protein bars. To organic mealworms (Tenebrio), they add spelt, bulgur, onions, vegetables and spices They work in association with Ensectable, who breed mealworms using their three modules in succession.

In the absence of established regulation standards, Essento follow the requirements of Bio Suisse, a private-sector Swiss organic farmer organisation that licenses companies. Bio Suisse require companies to have high animal welfare, use organic feed, and be energy efficient. Pesticides, antibiotics, hormones, and other medicines are forbidden by the licence conditions.

Home insect production

BeoBia Re_

BeoBia have a 5-tray system to raise mealworms at home, the ‘Re_’ that was featured in the last edition of Woven Network News. BeoBia’s Kickstarter appeal closes on 7 August 2020. It has exceeded its target already. Backers can obtain a 30-40% discount by ordering through the Kickstarter website.
Re_ is manufactured using 3D printing techniques. It is made using recycled plant-based plastics from renewable resources, such as corn starch, that can be easily composted using industrial methods. The food pod Re_ will also undergo a sustainable manufacturing process. It will be designed, manufactured, and shipped from the same location. This will minimise its impact on the environment. Along with the main food pod, the company will also launch 'Re_ Mini', a smaller insect pod for people to test out growing insects, and a ‘Re_cipe’ insect cookbook.
The pod requires pupae to be moved to a pupa home, then when beetles emerge, the beetle tray insert is moved to other trays to populate them with eggs and larvae.

Hive Explorer

The Hive Explorer to grow mealworms in the kitchen will be available from August 2020 from Livin Farms that operates from Hong Kong and Vienna. The worktop Hive Explorer 2.0 is fed a mixture of dry and wet kitchen waste. When the larvae pupate, they pupa have to be raised to the top tray using tweezers provided, but the hatching larvae move to the main tray themselves, and the frass falls to the base automatically for use as plant fertiliser. There is an education pack for children and schools.

Containerised black soldier fly production

Better Origin, Cambridge, formerly Entomics Biosystems, have developed a containerised black soldier fly production system that uses artificial intelligence in its processes to convert food and waste into black soldier fly protein and generate useful fertiliser.


Largest cricket farm to be built in Canada

Aspire Food Group, that operates in Ghana and the United States, will open a 9,300 square metre plant in London, Ontario. They will produce cricket flour to be added as a protein supplement to other foods. When up to full capacity, 9000 tonnes of powder will be produced annually.


Roslin Technologies, a partnership between the University of Edinburgh and two investment and business development companies, and SEEDS Capital, the investment arm of Enterprise Singapore, have invested in Protenga, Singapore. Protenga produce protein from black soldier fly, harnessing waste using bioconversion. Roslin Technologies will apply their breeding technologies to improve insect lines when their new genetic nucleus facility is built near Edinburgh.


… and finally, some good news about COVID-19

Dicke M, Eilenberg J, Falco Salles J, Jensen AB, Lecoq A, Pijlman GP, van Loon JJA, van Oers MM. Edible insects unlikely to contribute to transmission of coronavirus SARS-CoV-2. Journal of Insects as Food and Feed: 0 (0)- Pages: 1 – 8. Published Online: June 02, 2020

Abstract: In the context of food safety, edible insects are evaluated for biological hazards such as microbial pathogens according to regulations currently in place. When the European Food Safety Authority evaluated the hazards of edible insects as a potential source of pathogenic viruses for humans and livestock, the novel zoonotic coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 had not yet emerged but other pathogenic coronaviruses such as SARS (SARS-CoV) and MERS (MERS-CoV) were known. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, animal sources of protein for human consumption are being evaluated for the risks of being a transmission vector of coronaviruses, like SARS-CoV-2. Insects lack a receptor that can bind SARS-CoV-2, thus preventing the virus from replicating in insects, unlike some vertebrate livestock species and companion animals. Despite extensive monitoring, coronaviruses have never been recorded in insect microbiomes. Contamination of insects produced for food or feed may occur during the production process, resulting from rearing substrate or from insect farmers. However, the currently permitted rearing substrates do not include animal products and the farming process is highly automated, thus limiting interactions between farmers and insects. If contamination would still occur, the fact that the insects in production are not hosts to SARS-CoV-2 precludes virus replication and the further processing of the insects will destroy the contamination. We conclude that the hazard of edible insects being a transmission vector of SARS-CoV-2 is extremely low.
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