Singapore Approves 16 Insects for Consumption

July 10, 2024

Approved Insects by the Singapore Food Agency

The Singapore Food Agency (SFA) has given the green light to a variety of insects, including crickets, grubs, moth larvae, and one species of honeybee. This decision aims to support the nascent insect industry and introduce a new food source to Singapore.

United Nations Endorsement of Insect Consumption

The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) promotes insect consumption as an eco-friendly way to incorporate protein into diets for both humans and livestock. Singapore's initiative is aligned with these global sustainability goals.

Designated Edible Insect Species

Singapore has approved 16 insect species for human consumption. This list includes crickets, grasshoppers, a locust, and a honeybee in their adult stages, as well as mealworms, a white grub, a giant rhino beetle grub, and moths in their larval stages.

Innovative Insect-based Cuisine

A Singaporean restaurant chain, House of Seafood, plans to serve 30 insect-based dishes, including sushi garnished with silkworms and crickets, salted egg crab with superworms, and meatballs topped with worms. The SFA also permits the import of insect oil, pasta with insect ingredients, confectionery containing insects, and various insect preparations.

Photo: SungJin Hong

Global Insect Consumption Trends

Insects are consumed in 128 countries, with 2,205 species identified as edible worldwide. Asian countries, Mexico, and African nations lead in insect consumption. Insects are prepared in diverse ways globally, from being deep-fried to included in drinks and dishes.

Insect Approval in Other Regions

The European Union is in the process of approving more insects as a "novel food source," while Australia has approved three species: a cricket and two types of mealworms. This demonstrates a growing global trend towards recognizing insects as viable food sources.

Ethical Concerns About Eating Bees

While bees are crucial for ecosystems, the bees consumed as food are mostly drones, or male bees, which are often removed from hives to control pests. Female bees are also eaten in some regions, but their venom denatures when cooked, making them safe for consumption.

Environmental Benefits of Eating Insects

Insects are a sustainable protein source due to their high conversion rate, meaning they efficiently turn what they eat into body mass. They require less feed, water, and space compared to traditional livestock and produce lower emissions, making them an environmentally friendly option.

Unintentional Insect Consumption

Consumers may already be eating insects without knowing it. Products such as protein bars, pasta, and biscuits may contain insect flour. Additionally, carmine dye from shellac beetles and resin from the lac bug are used in various foods.

Promoting Insect Consumption

Education and exposure, particularly among children, can help normalize insect consumption. Popular products like cricket chips sold in Australian school canteens demonstrate the potential for integrating insects into mainstream diets.

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