Apologies for the delay in my post. I just returned to the USA yesterday from Wageningen University where I participated in a summer course on the production of insects as food and feed. I enjoyed the course very much. The group of participants were really engaged, and I am confident they all will be successful with their research and business endeavors. I especially enjoyed our visit to Dr. Leen Van Campenhout, Project Director for Lab4Food at KU Leuven. A tremendous amount of research taking place in her lab through a group of excellent graduate students and postdocs.
On my flight back to the states, I had a chance (9 hours of thinking time) to decide what I wanted to highlight in this week's blog post. And, I selected a paper that discusses adulterants in BSF food and their impact on BSF production. In this case, it is antibiotics- specifically, sulfonamides (antibiotic).
Gao, Q., Deng, W., Gao, Z., Li, M., Liu, W., Wang, X., Zhu, F., 2019. Effect of sulfonamide pollution on the growth of manure management candidate Hermetia illucens. PLOS ONE 14, e0216086.
Major Findings of Paper:
1. BSF can degrade the presence of these compounds in a feed substrate. This news supports previous findings with other antibiotics. One thing to note is the mechanism of this process has not been completely sorted out. Some speculate it is the metabolism of the antibiotic by BSF, while other suggest it is the microbiome of the BSF that is responsible for the degradation process.
One thing to note with the study and something I encourage researchers to consider if they want to conduct similar studies is the compound was placed in solution and then mixed in with the feed. I would like to know how BSF respond to the by-products of metabolism of the antibiotics present in a substrate as that would be more "real-world." The point being, mixing antibiotics in with a feed is not really what takes place. However, the results from this study are not lessened in terms of value as they do provide some clue as to how BSF respond to such materials.
2. Concentration of the antibiotic in the feed is important. There is a threshold at which the compound impacts BSF development and production. However, while low concentrations did not impact BSF production- how they impact adults still needs to be examined (see next point).
3 While low levels of the antibiotic did mot impact BSF develop or resulting adult production, it is not known if these sublethal concentrations impact the ability of resulting adults to mate and reproduce- something that needs to be investigated.
4. Residuals of some antibiotics can be found in resulting BSF. This is a really important aspect for everyone to think consider. Basically, contaminants, such as antibiotics can be present in BSF produced. Such contaminants could result in your BSF product being of zero value as they could not be sold in many global markets.
Insects as Food & Feed in the News...
Insects as Food Industry Valued at $8 billion by 2030- Yes, you read this number correctly- $8 billon. This is the projected value for the insects as food sector.
Insect Meat- Potential and Reality- this article discusses work taking place at Tufts University. They published an article in Frontiers in Sustainable Food Systems. You might check it out as it is a nice review of the topic.
Insects as Food- Another overview of the topics of insects as food and feed. I can't say anything new- but it is always good to have the message continuously put other there for others to read.
EVO Conversion Systems Received Award- Yes, a little self promotion. But, I am so proud of our team and the hard work invested to make our company a success. The Launch Award, which is presented by the Brazos Valley Economic Development Corporation, recognizes one company that has become established and demonstrated financial success. Here is what they state about the award:
"In determining the annual Launch Award winner, the BVEDC recognizes a company’s scale of operations since startup toward second-stage growth. The company must have demonstrated distinguished industry achievement of technology products and service that validates its potential. The company must have improved or transformed the region’s marketplace in target industry sectors, including advanced manufacturing, agricultural sciences, biotech, engineering, R&D and professional services."
Jeffery K. Tomberlin, PhD, Happy to have made new friends through the Wageningen Summer Course!
This conference, Insects Feed the World (IFW) has been held twice previously- the Netherlands & China.
The 2020 IFW is now officially schedule for Quebec City, Canada- mark your calendars!!! This conference is an excellent opportunity to engage the global community on insects as food and feed.
Insects to Feed the World 2020
I encourage you all to reserve the dates and plan on attending!
Jeffery K. Tomberlin, PhD, Excited about seeing everyone in 2020!!
I have been developing some slide sets for a workshop I am participating in at Wageningen University in the Netherlands next week, and one of the main topics is BSF digestion of feedstuff. And, while I typically discuss the use of pre-consumer food waste from homes, stores, restaurants and so on as a feedstock for BSF, I have not talked about the use agricultural food waste.
Thing about it- fruits, vegetables, and grains are harvested from the field but large amounts of by-product remains- such as spoiled material as well as the non-consumable parts (e.g., tomato plants, corn stalks, etc). In many cases these materials are tilled into the ground. Check out this article from a few years ago as perspective.
But, why are these materials not harvested and recycled with BSF? I think one of the primary reasons is the lack of nutritional value of these materials and the high cellulose content. So, I thought I would include this topic as part of my slide set to be presented during the workshop. Based on my quick review of the literature, there really isn't much known about the ability of the BSF to digest cellulose. But, I did come across this recent publication:
Gao, Z., Wang, W., Lu, X., Zhu, F., Liu, W., Wang, X., Lei, C., 2019. Bioconversion performance and life table of black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens) on fermented maize straw. Journal of Cleaner Production 230, 974-980.
Take a look if you have time; there are two major takeaways from the paper I would like you to pay particular attention to:
1. BSF can digest plant material high in cellulose- although it takes longer and production isn't as great as with traditional feedstock. But even more importantly-
2. The task was completed by adding a fermentation step. I believe it is commonly known that fermentation of materials to be fed to BSF, 1) enhances the process, 2) reduces odors, and 3) allows for the feedstock to be stored long periods of time prior to use.
Insects as Food & Feed in the News
Canadian Government Seeking Input- definitely check out this story. This is an opportunity to provide input on the use of insects as a food ingredient. I did not notice a direct link to where you can submit your input. So you might have to do a little digging.
Protix Opens New Facility- This is definitely something to be read. In fact, check out the video posted to Youtube. I am truly impressed at the size of the facility and its potential.
From Poo to Food in Kenya- I always appreciate the diversification of BSF (as you know). And, I especially liked this story as it demonstrates the utility of BSF to protect the environment. Kudos to my colleagues in Kenya!
Vegan Trend Boosts Interest in Insect Protein- This is an interesting story about insects as a protein source being supported by vegans... but is it vegan???
Jeffery K. Tomberlin, PhD, looking forward to seeing friends & colleagues in the Netherlands
As with each year, I am able to spend time with my family on holiday. And, we often go to the beach. We have a great time and the kids, at their ages (10 & 13) are less dependent on "Dad" to make it through the day. But, we do have a fun time.
Of course, with greater independence, "Dad" finds himself unoccupied- which means he has time to read a bit of BSF literature, reply to email, and when the time is right- read something fun.
For this trip I am reading "Thomas Jefferson- The Art of Power" by John Meacham. For those that do not know me personally, I truly enjoy reading world history, and I have a special interested in USA history prior to 1861.
But, like I said, I always have time to read BSF literature, which leads me to today's topic- adult matting.
We all know the "heartbeat" of any BSF production facility is the adult colony. If you do not have adults that mate and lay eggs in a predictable pattern, projecting BSF production/waste conversion is extremely challenging.
What is most interesting is that we recognize this massive limitation, but very little adult biology research is being conducted. I would say there are probably less than a dozen papers on this topic. In fact, I am only aware of one study that actually investigated some aspect of adult biology under somewhat natural conditions.
Tomberlin, J. K., and D. C. Sheppard. 2001. Lekking behavior of the black soldier fly (Diptera: Stratiomyidae). Fla Entomol 84: 729-730.
Here is a freshly printed paper on adult BSF mating behavior and egg production in a colony.
Hoc, B., G. Noël, J. Carpentier, F. Francis, and R. Caparros Megido. 2019.Optimization of black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens)artificial reproduction. PLOS ONE 14: e0216160.
The major findings from this article:
1. Increased male numbers accelerated the rate of egg deposition- meaning, females deposited eggs quicker.
2. More males equates to greater hatch rate.
I cannot emphasize this point enough- we need more research on this topic. So, for any researchers out there- send me an email if you are interested in collaborating on such an important topic.
Insects as Food & Feed in the News...
Protix Opens New Facility- A great accomplishment for Protix. They like a few others are making great progress with industrialization of the BSF.
Massive Funding for Research on Insects as Feed- great news for colleagues out of the Netherlands! Keep up the great work and best of luck with your research.
Enterra Mass Production- A nice story on Enterra's endeavors in Canada.
Insect-Based Ice Cream? Why not! - It is quite impressive to see what can be done with insects as far as food. It is no longer simply grow... dry... eat whole.
Jeffery K. Tomberlin, PhD, History Geek
Studies Continue to Demonstrate Value of Black Soldier Fly as Feed for Fish, Chickens, and..... Dogs?
I am on holiday for the next few days with my family (at the beach getting some sun). But, as my family knows, I have select activities that keep my mind engaged (such as this blog), which is a good thing. Put me in a situation where I do not have anything constructive to do, and I am bound to get into trouble or at minimum aggregate them with requests to "bond" over some outlandish family activity.
So, think of it this way, you reading my blog posts is appreciated by my family as well- not just me. This is a situation where everyone wins. I have fun discussing science with my friends around the world and my family gains a few minutes of peace. Now, moving on to today's discussion...
So, I was reviewing some recent publications on the BSF and took notice of the diversity of products, or I should say applications, being developed with the BSF as an ingredient. And, if I haven't preached enough previously on this topic, well I am going to try and partially fulfill this assessment now.
The insects as food and feed industry (more specifically the feed industry) needs to keep pushing forward on product diversification. Right now, we are seeing the whole insect as the product, but I imagine that eventually BSF will be broken down and sub-components of the BSF will be used as ingredients or sold as simplified products themself.
The analogy I use is with livestock. Historically, the whole animal was sold as the product. But, over time, the animal industry has diversified, and these animals are now broken into 100s of different products, which has increased the industry value as well as demand. Think of it this way, we do not go to the store and buy the whole chicken (e.g., feathers, feet, head, internal organs, etc) but typically only a part of it. We need to do the same with BSF; we need to figure out how to deconstruct the insect. I believe doing so will stabilize the market by diversifying the industry. At the same time, the value of BSF will increase. The sum of the parts is truly greater than the value of the whole as a single unit.
Three articles for you to check out are:
Wang, G., K. Peng, J. Hu, C. Yi, X. Chen, H. Wu, and Y. Huang. 2019. Evaluation of defatted black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens L.) larvae meal as an alternative protein ingredient for juvenile Japanese seabass (Lateolabrax japonicus) diets. Aquaculture 507: 144-154.
Main Point- I believe this is the first paper to look at the use of BSF with Japanese seabass. They determined a 64% replacement of traditional diet with BSF could be achieved without any negative impacts on fish development.
Mwaniki, Z. 2019. Complete replacement of soybean meal with defatted black soldier fly larva meal (BSFLM) in laying hen feeding programs: impact on egg production and quality. MS. Thesis.
Main Point- First and foremost, this is a student's research for their MS. I am always excited to see more individuals recruited to the area of insects as food and feed- especially with BSF. The use of BSF as a diet for poultry once again looks very promising. However, it should be noted that conversion rates were not the greatest. But, I am not sure if the calculations are correct. Maybe someone else can take a look and verify these numbers. Also, the author indicated the liver and pancreas were a bit enlarged- is this an issue? If so, how can it be corrected through diet formulation?
Lei X.J., Kim T.H., Park J.H., Kim I.H. (2019). Evaluation of supplementation of defatted black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens) larvae meal in beagle dogs, Annals of Animal Science, DOI: 10.2478/aoas-2019-0021
Main Point-This paper was a challenge for me to read simply because the physiological descriptions presented are a bit above my understanding. What I did gather from the article was the inclusion of BSF did not impact the animal. But, do not take my word for it- check it out for yourself and let me know if I missed anything.
Insects as Food & Feed in the News....
South China Morning Post- one of the better articles I have read online that discusses the insects as food and feed sector.
The Poultry Site- This is a review of IPIFF asking for greater quality assurance measures in insects as food and feed sector. I am reposting this topic as it demonstrates the poultry industry is taking notice of what we all are attempting to accomplish.
Insects as Meat- I am a bit surprised that there are individuals referring to insects as "meat". I caution the adoption of this practice as it will potentially create friction between the insects as food and feed industry with livestock, poultry, and aquaculture. The last thing an industry in its infancy needs is to have such large commodity groups seeing it as a competitor rather than a partner.
Jeffery K. Tomberlin, PhD, Not a Fan of Using Term, "Meat" to Describe Insects
Individuals with over 25 years research experience with the black soldier fly. We are passionate about the science behind the black soldier fly and its ability to convert waste to protein.
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