Monday, December 7, 2015

07/12/2015: Survey results reported by BBC reinforce consumer trend towards demand for knowledge on insect protein

Results from the latest consumer perception survey on current and potential sources of protein for animal feed were revealed at the end of November on BBC Countryfile, one of the top five most popular shows on UK TV, attracting regular audiences of up to seven million viewers.
In an episode broadcast at 6.20pm on BBC One on Sunday 29 November, the flagship rural affairs programme reported that 75 percent of people questioned would be comfortable eating farmed animals fed on insects. Three quarters of respondents believe there is a low risk to human health associated with insect protein for animal feed.

The Europe-wide, multi-lingual consumer perception survey received more than 1100 responses and was conducted by the EC-funded PROteINSECT project, which is investigating the potential of insect protein for animal feed in the diets of chicken, pigs and fish.
Image: Johan Hansson
Full analysis of the survey across all languages will follow, but early results from English-speaking respondents demonstrate that 91 percent feel they should have basic knowledge about the content of animal feed.  Close to 60 percent said that when buying meat or fish, their choices are affected by what the animal itself has been fed.

In addition to gaining first sight of the survey results, Countryfile was granted exclusive access to the first European insect-protein feeding trials with pigs, conducted by PROteINSECT in Belgium. Presenter Tom Heap travelled to Ghent in early November to interview expert researchers and speak with local farmers managing the trials about the benefits of an insect-based diet for their livestock.

The BBC investigation is particularly timely, coming on the heels of the Scientific Opinion on the ‘risk profile’ of insect protein for feed and food, which was published in October 2015 by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and which highlighted the need for more robust data.  With a research mandate covering production, processing, safety, quality and consumer perception, PROteINSECT is ideally placed to answer many of the remaining questions posed by legislators, industry and the public around insect protein for animal feed.

“Our reliance in Europe on imported sources of protein for farmed animals and fish is a recognised issue,” says Dr Elaine Fitches, PROteINSECT project co-ordinator from Fera Science Ltd (Food & Environment Research Agency, UK).

“Being featured on such a popular programme is a fantastic opportunity to raise the profile of our research and demonstrate the robust evidence base being developed by our international experts.”

“The survey results suggest there is consumer demand for more knowledge around current and potential protein sources for animal feed.  This valuable exposure will help increase public awareness around the overall potential of insects to positively impact the future of farming in Europe and help address the challenge of our global food security.”

Visit the PROteINSECT website HERE.

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