MAR 2018 - Milling and Grain magazine

Page 78


Insectmeal: A revolutionary ingredient


by Martin Zorrilla, Head of R&D, Nutrition Technologies, UK

nsects can be a feed ingredient”. Over the past decade this statement has gone from fringe proposal to a widely accepted fact. While research on sixlegged feed has been around since the early 1980s, recent academic papers and signs of rapid private sector progress has popularised the concept. However, the focal point of this progress has been narrow, with insects seen mostly as a pure fishmeal replacement, rather than a novel ingredient in their own right, with a range of functional benefits. There is of course a good reason for this. Fishmeal prices have been on an upward trend for the past couple of decades, and currently the market is experiencing extreme volatility and uncertainty. This alone has been enough for many to dedicate time and resources to alternative proteins. However, a huge area of application that is often overlooked is the potential impact on animal health and performance for swine and poultry, as well as fish and crustaceans. Insects, such as the Black Soldier Fly Larvae (BSFL), have a well-balanced amino acid profile which is capable of replacing fishmeal in carnivorous fish diets with far greater success than plant proteins. For example, in 2011, Sealey et al. found that BSFL meal can successfully replace up to 50 percent of the fishmeal in Rainbow trout diets. However, focusing on the amino acid profile of insects understates the novelty of the innovation on our threshold. While traditional insect cultivation dates back 3,200 years, it is only in the past decade that high volume production has coincided with serious research on the effects of diets containing insectmeal. This is despite the fact that insects make up the natural diet of so many of our livestock and aquaculture species in the wild. In effect, when we add insects to animal feed we are re-introducing our domesticated animals to their historical food sources. If we swap out fishmeal for insectmeal in poultry feed we are not ‘replacing fishmeal’, we are doing away with an insectreplacement and using the real thing. Unsurprisingly, natural diets make for healthy animals. Recent research on the functional benefits of insect-based feed have confirmed that significant impacts can be had for pig and poultry gut health, growth performance, and disease resistance. In 2015, Park et al. discovered a novel Antimicrobial Peptide (AMP) in the BSFL gut that inhibits a range of bacteria. Follow-up studies have confirmed that these AMPs can inhibit E. coli, S. aureus, and even fungi such as the plant pathogen Rhizoctonia solani. In a 2016 review Jozefiak and coauthors were very positive about the implications: “Insect antimicrobial peptides provide great hope due to the increasing global problem of bacterial resistance to antibiotics.” In addition to AMPs, Black Soldier Fly Larvae are rich in another antimicrobial compound: Medium-Chain Fatty Acids (MCFAs). MCFAs have garnered attention in the swine and poultry sectors for their ability to disrupt bacterial membranes, but high MCFA fractions are rare in vegetable oils. The BSFL oil we produce at Nutrition Technologies is over 40

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