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Dear Readers and friends of SUStainable INsect CHAIN (SUSINCHAIN),

This Christmas edition of the newsletter contains an update of the various activities that are currently being conducted. Now that more and more results are becoming available, extra attention is being paid to dissemination activities. For example, SUSINCHAIN participates in 'Horizon Results Booster' which is a new package to maximize the impact of R&I public investment and further amplify the added value of the Horizon 2020 Program. It helps to bring a continuous stream of innovation to the market and beyond. It also helps to speed up creating an impact, providing support to remove bottlenecks and increase project results' exploitation potential and improve access to markets. Furthermore, a collaboration has been started with three other ‘sister’ projects (NextGenProteins, Profuture, and SmartProteins) on alternative proteins that were started almost simultaneously under the same call of Horizon 2020. One of the joint initiatives is the organization of Webinars on certain themes such as 'Consumer acceptance of novel proteins', 'Food safety & regulatory challenges', 'Novel proteins for food applications', 'Sustainability', 'Novel proteins for feed', 'Business/market opportunities/barriers upscaling/risk management', and 'Production of alternative proteins'. The Webinars will be announced via social media and participation is free.

I wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and a healthy and happy 2022.

Teun Veldkamp, Wageningen Livestock Research, coordinator of SUSINCHAIN.

For more information on the SUSINCHAIN project and its research topics, the Project Coordinator invites you to check our website.

Project updates

Activities on Insect Processing

Storage and transport experiments currently focus on the storage of dried black soldier fly larvae under nitrogen atmosphere to minimise fat oxidation. First experiments are ongoing.

Packing dried BSFL under nitrogen atmosphere
(picture: KUL)

Microwave and radio frequency drying technologies are nearly optimised. The first preparations for a large-scale comparison experiment are being made, in which the effect of these novel drying methods on microbiological and nutritional quality and operational costs will be studied. Freeze-dried and oven dried insects will serve as benchmark.

Microwave-dried BSFL
(picture: KUL)

Low energy electron beam (LEEB) proved its role as decontamination technology for dried BSFL and mealworms. Shelf-life experiments for BSFL are still ongoing.

Optimisation of high moisture extrusion (HME) technology to include up to 30% whole fresh or frozen insects (mealworms, BSFL, house crickets or housefly larvae) in plant-based extrudates was finished. HME has shown its potential to produce high quality extrudates for food and feed applications and can, at the same time, substantially reduce the microbial counts (including bacterial spores) of the insects.

Industrial-scale protein recovery from BSFL by using enzymatic pre-treatment combined with continuous tricanter centrifugation was optimised. The enzymatic treatment can provide an added value to insect meal with an excellent nutritional value, rich in essential amino acids and improved properties with enhanced digestibility, easier to be adsorbed and digested, but comes with a higher cost. This work has been finalised.

Activities on Insects in Animal Feed

The large-scale trial with European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax) has been performed in Greece in the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (HCMR). It ended in July 2021. All samples have been collected for the analyses on animal health and product quality. Samples have been sent from HCMR to UNITO and one master degree students has started quality analyses.

A large-scale trial on Atlantic salmon (Salmo salar) is currently running in Austevoll Research station, Institute of Marine Research (IMR), Norway with 6000 fish each in 9 sea cages with black soldier fly (BSF) larval meal inclusion at 5% and 10%. The trial started on July 28, 2021 and will be carried out for a year. The data on fish welfare, growth, health (Mucus, gill, skin, histology), and fillet quality is expected to be generated by the end of the trial.

Laying hens
Preparations for the large-scale experiment with laying hens at Wageningen Livestock Research are in full swing. The intended start of the experiment is Spring 2022. Three dietary treatments will be tested with increasing dietary levels of black soldier fly meal (0, 5, and 10% inclusion). The diets will be formulated to be isonitrogenous and isoenergetic. The three experimental diets will be administered ad libitum from 17 to 30 weeks of age. Production performance and egg quality are parameters that are measured and physiological effects will be evaluated by hematic, biochemical, histological and immuno-histochemical analyses. Lastly, the physical, chemical and organoleptic quality of eggs will be assessed.

For the large-scale piglet trial planned in 2022, a batch of BSF insect meal has been obtained and has been evaluated on nutrient digestibility and energy value in an ileal/faecal digestibility study in piglets. The results will be used for formulating diets in the performance study with piglets in which insect meal will be included at 5 and 10% of the diet. The effects on feed intake, body weight gain and feed conversion ratio will be determined in the performance study.

Scratching brown laying hens

Activities on Safety along the Insect Value Chain

The two insect trials on mycotoxins have been finalized, and analyses are currently being performed and first (promising) results are obtained.

  • The first experiment on lesser mealworm (LMW) was performed together with ProtiFarm and focused on the effects of Aflatoxin B1 on three different life-stages of this insect species. Aflatoxin B1 is a very toxic compound produced by certain fungi, and contamination of certain food and feed materials such as peanuts and maize are highly problematic, especially in Africa. Results from earlier studies indicated that the lesser mealworm metabolized the aflatoxin B1 to some extent, while not being affected in terms of growth and survival itself. In this study, the diet of the larvae was artificially contaminated with Aflatoxin B1 in two different concentrations, and larvae were grown on the contaminated substrate. High resolution mass spectrometry methods were used to gain more knowledge on the metabolites that are formed by the larvae. Results of this study suggests that this species is capable of being reared on AFB1 contaminated diets throughout its entire lifecycle without any adverse effects on growth and survival. Furthermore, analytical results indicated that AFB1, and its metabolites, were absent from the insects in all stages. These results are promising, but more research is recommended to verify that the absence of AFB1 and metabolites in the insects indeed translates to an absence in toxicity.
  • The second experiment with black soldier fly larvae (BSFL) was performed together with Bestico and focused on determining the effects of aflatoxin B1, as well as the mycotoxins zearalenone (ZEN), ochratoxin A (OTA) and fumonisin (FB1) on the larvae, and to gain more insights into possible metabolites formed. For this purpose, the diet of the larvae was artificially contaminated with each of these four mycotoxins as well as with isotope labelled versions of the toxins. Samples were also analysed using high resolution mass spectrometry. By comparing the results of the isotope labelled mycotoxins to treatments with unlabelled versions, information on formed metabolites was gathered. As with the LMW, also the BSFL were unaffected in terms of survival and growth by all tested mycotoxins. Very low concentrations of most mycotoxins could be quantified in the larval samples, except for fumonisin B1 which was somewhat higher, but did not bio-accumulate. Also for the BSFL, additional research is recommended to verify the safety of the larvae.

The experiment with plant toxins has been finalized and results of the analyses are expected soon. Both black soldier fly larvae and lesser mealworm were exposed to five different mixtures of (artificial) plant toxins in their diet, in order to determine the effects on growth and survival; as well as bio-accumulation and/or excretion of these compounds. Preliminary results suggest that both insect species were not significantly affected by these treatments, and that transfer and accumulation of individual toxins differed. Further interpretation of results is ongoing, and a scientific article based on this work is currently being prepared.

(1) Overview of experimental containers for mycotoxins experiment with black soldier fly larvae, in collaboration with Bestico (2) Removal of individual black soldier fly larvae from experimental container, for counting, weighing, and subsequent analysis (3) Overview of lesser mealworm rearing containers for experiment with aflatoxin B1

Activities on Exploitation, Communication and Dissemination

Webinar: Safety & Regulatory of Novel Protein Sources

While facing climate change and natural resource scarcity, ensuring sufficient, nutritious, safe and affordable food to a fast-growing world population with changing dietary habits becomes increasingly challenging. The protein supply is in this respect most critical. Integration of a variety of new or alternative protein sources from both terrestrial and aquatic origin into new and/or existing processes or products needs to be explored, in order to develop and ensure more sustainable, resilient supply chains, featuring high consumer acceptability by a clean labelling approach and attractive market opportunities.

Sharing this goal, the EU H2020 funded projects NextGenProteins, ProFuture, smart protein and SUSINCHAIN launched Horizon4Proteins, a Webinar series – starting on 13th December 2021 — to work together in key aspects such as: Consumer acceptance of alternative proteins, Safety and Regulatory challenges, Food applications, and Sustainability. Horizon4Proteins invites researchers, farmers, producers and policymakers to join the conversation and contribute to the present and future of the sector.

The first webinar focused on Safety & Regulatory of Novel Protein Sources was co-organised by SUSINCHAIN and NextGenProteins and took place on December 13th. The event was attended by 77 participants from different backgrounds.

The webinar is available on SUSINCHAIN YouTube channel

Get involved in the Horizon4Proteins!

Follow the Horizon4Proteins projects to learn more:
SUSINCHAIN - NextGenProteins - ProFuture - smart protein



  • EAAP 2021 – Davos, Switzerland (30 August – 3 September)
  • INSECTA 2021 – Magdeburg, Germany (8 – 9 September)


  • Insects to Feed the World – Quebec, Canada– 12-16 June 2022
  • Call for abstracts for EAAP 2022 will be open in January 2022. For more information: www.eaap2022.org

Partners & Stakeholders


Call for Supporting Organisations

Please contact Ms. Ana Fernandes if your organisation wants to be featured at SUSINCHAIN´s Supporting Organisation webpage.

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SUSINCHAIN received funding from the European Union’s H2020 programme under the grant agreement 861976.
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission.

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