Knowledge can make production of insects even more sustainable

The production of insects emits 100 times less CO2 than the production of cattle. Thus, insects are a highly sustainable source of particular protein - for healthy foods as well as for animal feed.

However, current EU legislation places restrictions on the use of residuals and waste products – such as discarded foodstuff and food scraps containing fish and meat – as feed (substrate) in the production of insects.

The production of insects would be far more profitable and sustainable, if permission was given to use residual products from the food industry as substrate.

For the EU to change the rules to allow the use of more types of substrates, more scientific documentation is needed to show that potential biological and chemical hazards in the substrates can be managed during production.

The National Food Institute's researchers have worked to provide this knowledge, e.g. through research projects. In addition to microbiological and chemical laboratories, the National Food Institute has its own insect facilities where the temperature and humidity of the room can be controlled in order to give the insects the optimal conditions for growth.

Growing the insects makes it possible to perform studies that shed light on the risk of disease-causing bacteria and harmful substances ending up in the insects, and ways of controlling their presence to ensure a high level of food safety in the future production of insects.

Read more

An article in the National Food Institute’s 60-anniversary publication provides an insight into how the institute is working with authorities and producers to enable the safe production of insects: Insects’ safe journey to the dinner table.

Read more about the challenges related to utilizing by-products as feed for insects in a brochure from the National Food Institute and the Danish Technological Institute: Unlocking the potential for using by-products as feed (substrate) to produce edible insects.

In a project for the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration, the National Food Institute has outlined the microbiological, chemical and physical hazards, which insects are exposed to via different substrates. The researchers have also looked at the extent to which these hazards can subsequently be found in the insects. This work is described in further detail in the memo: Fareprofil for substrater til insektopdræt (hazard identification) (available in Danish only).


Dorte Lau Baggesen
Head of Division
National Food Institute
+45 35 88 62 07


Annette Nygaard Jensen
Senior Researcher
National Food Institute
+45 35 88 63 28
22 APRIL 2021