Insects for human consumption: Europe gives the green light

The Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Animal Nutrition of the European Commission (SCOPAFF) has just given the green light to the marketing of a species of insect for human consumption.

The safety of mealworms for human consumption was confirmed as of January 2021

It is a key step in the march towards the marketing of insects intended for human consumption. On May 4, 2021, the Member States of the European Union voted to authorize the marketing for human consumption of larvae of the mealworm (commonly known as “mealworms”), until now only authorized for animal feed. . This political decision follows that of the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), which issued, on January 13, 2021, a favorable judgment on the safety of these insects for human consumption.

Now that the favorable vote within SCOPAFF has been acquired, European authorization will only be a formality, it will be obtained in the coming weeks. Manufacturers will then be able to market the whole mealworm in dried form but above all in powder form. This has many potential uses (incorporation in pasta, breads and cookies for example).

Other insects could soon be declared edible

The authorization of this marketing of insects for human consumption was eagerly awaited by food safety specialists. Indeed, knowing that the world population should reach 9 billion individuals by 2020 and while we are already struggling to feed the current 7.6 billion inhabitants of our planet (due to the lack of agricultural land , the progression of which generates deforestation and destroys ecosystems), insects represent a hope insofar as they constitute a source of protein, even though their breeding has a reduced impact on the environment (no need for large spaces: vertical farms are very well suited to insect breeding).

And in all likelihood, mealworm larvae will not be the only species permitted for human consumption. Applications for 11 other insect species have already been submitted by industry to EFSA. The agency works in particular on crickets and grasshoppers.