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

As you can read in this edition of the newsletter, the various work packages in the third year of the project focused on market development and consumer perception, insect breeding, the processing of insect products, insects as food and feed, food safety and sustainability. As you can see under the heading 'upcoming,' several important conferences to share project results with a broader audience are upcoming soon. Again, I emphasize the importance of sharing research results for the development of the insect sector in Europe. The EU H2020 funded projects NextGenProteins, ProFuture, Smart Protein and SUSINCHAIN have launched Horizon4Proteins, a Webinar series to work together in key aspects such as: Consumer acceptance of alternative proteins, Safety and Regulatory challenges, Food applications, and Sustainability. The joint Webinars will be organised every two months and information can be found on the website of SUSINCHAIN (https://susinchain.eu/). Horizon4Proteins invites researchers, farmers, producers and policymakers to join the conversation and contribute to the present and future of the sector.
I hope you enjoy reading this newsletter.

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 Upscaling Rearing Insects

To optimize the growth of the insects for a more efficient rearing and high-quality product, several trials have been set-up and ongoing to improve the feed of BSF, mealworms and crickets. Several partners have looked at density, particle size, feeding regime etc. For example, in a first trial, reducing the feed density for the BSF using, inert materials, seemed to improve the growth of the larvae and the overall yield. This experiment is currently replicated on a larger scale to assess the industrial possibilities. The results of two other trials on mealworms have now been published as open access research paper in the Journal for insects as food and feed. In the near future, work will start with low-cost feed made from side streams that are now currently abundantly available but not easy to use in conventional animal farms for the cricket, mealworm and BSF.

Activities on Insect Processing

Storage and transport of black soldier fly larvae (BSFL) was assessed in two more experiments. First, the survival of living BSFL was investigated during storage in water. It appeared that larvae can survive in water for a short time, depending on the water temperature. This may provide possibilities for short-distance or in-company transport and temporary storage. A second experiment investigated the impact of storage of dried BSFL under nitrogen atmosphere, as an alternative for frozen storage in order to counter lipid oxidation. We found that indeed packing larvae under nitrogen has a similar (low) impact on primary and secondary oxidation.

Packing dried BSFL under nitrogen atmosphere
(picture: KUL)

Optimisation of Microwave and radio frequency drying technologies has finished. Currently, a large-scale experiment is being set up to compare these novel technologies with conventional drying techniques (freeze drying and oven drying) in terms of microbiological and nutritional quality as well as in terms of costs.

Microwave-dried BSFL
(picture: KUL)

All experiments with the low energy electron beam (LEEB) have finished. It was proven that LEEB treatment can substantially reduce the microbial load of dried insects and prolong shelf life for both dried BSFL and mealworms. Similar results were obtained with microwave-dried insects, but the technology is not suited for fresh insects.

In order to produce insect meals for WP4, 1 500 kg of fresh BSFL produced, of which 500 kg was used untreated, 500 kg were dried with microwaves and 500 kg were enzymatically treated in a 100 L reactor. The latter larvae were subjected to a treatment with a tricanter centrifuge. This process proved to reduce the fat content and enhance the in vitro protein digestibility by over 20%.

Enzymatic treatment of BSFL

Activities on Insects in Animal Feed

The large-scale trial with European sea bass (Dicentrarchus labrax) has been performed in Greece in the Hellenic Center for Marine Research (HCMR). It ended in July 2021. All samples have been collected for the analyses on animal health and product quality.

(1) Experimental tanks for large scale European sea bass trial (2) Fish sampling for cages (3) Samples and Data collection (4) Samples ready to be shipped

Black Soldier Fly meal inclusion in Laying hen diets has been tested. Effects of black soldier fly larvae as insect meal at different inclusion levels (0%, 5%, and 10%) on performance, health, and egg quality in laying hens were studied between 18 to 30 weeks of age. The experiment was completed last week. Additional analyses on health status, egg quality, and sensory analyses are performed now.

(1) Experimental pen for laying hen experiment (2) Eggs collected for further chemical and sensory analyses

Activities on Safety along the Insect Value Chain

One of the two insect trials on mycotoxins has been finalized. This firstexperiment on lesser mealworm was performed together with ProtiFarm and focused on the effects of Aflatoxin B1 on three different life-stages of this insect. The aim was to investigate possible differences in metabolic rate and/or metabolic compounds in three different life-stages of this 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. Earlier results indicated that the lesser mealworm metabolized the aflatoxin B1 to some extent, while not being affected in terms of growth and survival itself. In the current study, the diet the larvae was artificially contaminated with Aflatoxin B1, 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. 

No negative effects on growth and survival were observed, indicating that the Lesser Mealworm is very resistant to aflatoxin B1. Chemical analyses of the larvae and the excreta after the experiment showed that aflatoxin B1 and known aflatoxin derivatives (metabolites) were not present in the insects, and concentrations in the excreta were up to 40% of the spiked concentrations in the feed. It was not clear whether the other proportion that could not be quantified was completely detoxified or converted into unidentified (toxic) metabolites. In case detoxification can be verified, then the Lesser Mealworm is a very suitable candidate for the rearing on aflatoxin-contaminated feed materials. Further research is warranted, and will be performed in the remaining project period.

Activities on Sustainability of insect production & Decision Support System for Insect Value chains

  • SUSINCHAIN Life cycle assessment (LCA) and cost calculation and recommendation tool has been developed. The tool is based on modular LCA and scenario-based life cycle inventory. The tool compares insect species production scenarios to test the sensitivity of results with different feed, processing and utilities, type of end product, packaging and scaling options. The link for the tool is http://susinchain.herokuapp.com/index
  • The multi-objective optimization algorithm- Non dominant Sorting Genetic Algorithm (NSGA-II) is in development phase to define the most eco-effecient insect production scenarios in Europe. Integrated multi-objective optimization with SUSINCHAIN tool can be used to identify hotspots in the insect production system.

Activities on Exploitation, Communication and Dissemination

Horizon4Proteins - Webinar Series

The Horizon4Proteins - a collaboration between the EU projects NextGenProteins, ProFuture, Smart Protein and SUSINCHAIN - organised two more webinars the events were part of a webinar series organized the group that joined forces to promote and discuss alternative proteins, supporting the transition towards a more sustainable and resilient food system in Europe. They work together on 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.

Webinar | Why (not) to eat?
European consumers’ views on foods made of alternative proteins – 3rd of February

In this highly informative webinar, Horizon4Proteins explored European consumers’ views on alternative proteins made with novel ingredients, like microalgae, insect, plant-based and single-cell proteins. Jaakko Paasi, Principal Scientist in Foresight-driven Business Strategies at VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd. and Armando Perez-Cueto, Associate Professor at the Design and Consumer Behaviour Department of the University of Copenhagen provided with deep insights on consumer acceptance.

Horizon4Proteins Webinar: Novel Proteins - Food of the Future
28 April 2022

In this webinar, the Horizon4Proteins projects discussed novel proteins and their application in the food of the future. Participants were able to learn about the latest research via examples of novel proteins products and ingredients. Speakers showcased innovative microalgae enriched foods and related challenges and opportunities. They also highlighted advances in new food product development using single cell, microalgae and insect proteins. The webinars are available on SUSINCHAIN website

Get involved in the Horizon4Proteins!

Featured News & Articles

  • Gorrens, E., Van Looveren, N., Van Moll, L., Vandeweyer, D., Lachi, D., De Smet, J., Van Campenhout, L. (2021). Staphylococcus aureus in Substrates for Black Soldier Fly Larvae (Hermetia illucens) and Its Dynamics during Rearing. Microbiology Spectrum, 9(3), doi: 10.1128/spectrum.02183-21.
  • Peguero, D.A., Gold, M., Vandeweyer, D., Zurbrügg, C. & Mathys, A. (2022). A Review of Pretreatment Methods to Improve Agri-Food Waste Bioconversion by Black Soldier Fly Larvae. Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems, 5:745894. doi: 10.3389/fsufs.2021.745894.
  • Veldkamp, T., Meijer, N., Alleweidt, F., Deruytter, D., Van Campenhout L., Gasco, L., Roos, N., Smetana, S., Fernandes, A., van der Fels-Klerx, H.J. (2022). Overcoming Technical and Market Barriers to Enable Sustainable Large-Scale Production and Consumption of Insect Proteins in Europe: A SUSINCHAIN Perspective. Insects, doi: 10.3390/insects13030281.
  • Herrera, E., Petrusan, J. I., Salvá-Ruiz, B., Novak, A., Cavalcanti, K., Aguilar, V., ... & Smetana, S. (2022). Meat Quality of Guinea Pig (Cavia porcellus) Fed with Black Soldier Fly Larvae Meal (Hermetia illucens) as a Protein Source. Sustainability, 14(3), 1292.




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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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