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Enabling factors for increasing the use of insects in sustainable food production.

   School of Animal, Rural and Environmental Sciences

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  Dr D Scholey  No more applications being accepted  Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Ongoing global food security requires a paradigm shift in our resource use: circular economies are a key approach to achieving the seismic change required but will involve rethinking waste in the food chain. Insect larvae are emerging as the leading candidate for establishing circular economies relating to food production, due to their ability to upcycle nutrient from low to high value forms. 

The NTU poultry team is internationally recognised as a leading research hub investigating unconventional feed materials and has a number of projects optimising the production process and nutritional profile of insect larvae meals. However, there are currently a number of barriers inhibiting the global and UK growth of insect farming, including perceived risk to human health through both pathogens and allergens; government policies around waste and food hygiene; and consumer perception of insects as food. The aim of this project is to examine both biological and social factors surrounding the use of insects in the food chain and develop intervention strategies that facilitate the global growth of insect farm on both a local community and industrial scale in both the UK and African Dry Areas countries.  

PhD objective 1: Quantify the potential allergenicity of insects on handling material, and via residues in meat of poultry reared on insect larvae meal. Insect larvae pose a potential risk in terms of allergy in both their own right, and also due to the high level of cross reactivity with shrimp and crustacean allergies. Passive filter air collection, swabbing and direct-meat sampling will be utilised in combination with ELISA testing to establish the levels of insect larvae present, and quantify its potential risk.   

PhD objective 2: Explore the role of larvae in supporting the global adoption of the Better Chicken Commitment (the leading set of standards for broiler welfare driving the food industry towards higher welfare practices). Specifically, this will include assessing use of live insect larvae to promote foraging behaviour in both egg and meat poultry and conduct modelling (based on existing data sets held by NTU) to determine levels of dietary insect larvae required to mitigate the increased carbon footprint associated with adopting slower growing (Hubbard) strains of meat poultry. 

PhD Objective 3: Identification (in collaboration with the Innogen Institute) of required changes to public policy and societal knowledge base needed to increase use of insects in the food chain in industry and local community approaches in the UK and Ethiopia.

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