Mealworms could soon be on menus across Europe

18-01-2021 | |
Photo: Michel Velderman
Photo: Michel Velderman

If eating insects as an alternative food protein source is on your agenda then good news is afoot as mealworms have been authorised for human consumption.

Although at the early stages of a full green light, dried yellow mealworms has got the initial thumbs up from the EU’s food safety watchdog, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA).

It’s a clear and important milestone for the whole sector.”

More commonly known as the larval form of the mealworm beetle, dried yellow mealworm is deemed safe for human consumption in both its whole form and as a powder additive. EFSA has given its determination following an application by French insect farmer EAP Group SAS – Micronutris, which is now known as Agronutris. However, the authorisation by EFSA is the first step on the ladder which has to be followed by European Commission officials approval on whether the insects can be sold as snacks or for other foodstuffs.

“It’s a clear and important milestone for the whole sector,” said Antoine Hubert, co-founder of France’s Ynsect SAS, which rears mealworms and plans to expand into sports nutrition. “There will be a snowball effect. It will increase the potential to invest in further capacity and attract further funding to support the growth.”

Nutritional value of mealworms

Mealworms are high in fibre and contain lots of protein. There has been a lot of interest and debate on using insects as a protein source for some time but this is the first official approval in Europe. As well as offsetting low-carbon emissions, insects are often regarded as a sustainable method of producing protein.

“This first EFSA risk assessment of an insect as novel food can pave the way for the first EU-wide approval,” Ermolaos Ververis, a scientific officer at the food agency, told The Guardian. “Our risk evaluation is a decisive and necessary step in the regulation of novel foods by supporting policymakers in the EU in making science-based decisions and ensuring the safety of consumers.”

Antoine Hubert, CEO of insect-based food start-up Ÿnsect, said: “We need to celebrate this breakthrough. It is a major achievement that rewards the work that has been done for years by the entire European insect industry gathered under IPIFF (International Platform of Insects for Food and Feed) umbrella.

“It demonstrates, if proof was needed, the excellence of the European and French insect industry and its global leadership. “We hope that this positive assessment will be the first of many and that it will facilitate approvals by reassuring the European and non-EU authorities of the trustworthiness of our industry,” he added.

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Chris McCullough Freelance multi-media journalist
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