As people become more aware of the climate impact of meat consumption, one source of protein is a good alternative. The trouble is getting over the ick factor, says a consultant. A survey conducted in January 2021 by Prof Shirley Ho at NTU revealed mixed opinions on the use of insects as fish feed. 92 per cent of Singaporeans and permanent residents interviewed were open to using okara meal, a by-product from tofu and soy milk production, while only 46 per cent would endorse plastic-eating mealworm larvae as aquafeed, likely because of food safety concerns. Upcycling food waste, agricultural by-products or manure from livestock agriculture offers a low-cost, high-nutrition feed for insects whilst creating a circular farming operation.
But rigorous and regular testing is required to mitigate potential food safety risks. “General food waste tends to be more heterogenous in composition. It may contain toxic substances and be prone to microbial contamination, which could pass on to the animals and eventually consumers if we use general waste to feed insects”, says Prof William Chen, Director of NTU’s Food Science and Technology Programme.