Edible Insects Most Likely Coming To European Supermarkets Soon
Updated: May 29
By Alex Ledsom
In a landmark decision, the E.U.’s European Food Safety Authority is expected to approve the sale of insects for human consumption. It means that for the first time, there will be a huge raft of edible insects on sale across European countries and new opportunities in the food industry.
The Guardian reported that the breakthrough moment would mean that whole or ground mealworms, lesser mealworms, locusts, crickets and grasshoppers would be deemed safe for human consumption. If the green light is given, then foods could be on sale across Europe as early as the Autumn.
Companies working in the sector have been trying to get E.U. wide approval for a number of years. Insects can already be found in U.K., Dutch, Belgian, Danish and Finnish supermarkets because these countries are more permissive of a 1997 E.U. law which requires food not eaten before that year to be authorised as “novel foods”. Countries such as the U.K. decided this law didn’t refer to animals used for food.
The Guardian reported that about 500 tonnes of insect-based food for human consumption is produced every year but this figure will snowball, if the approval is granted and large companies can start producing insect-based products for sale in countries such as France, Spain and Italy. The major players are Protifarm in the Netherlands, Micronutris in France, Essento in Switzerland and Entogourmet in Spain.
The term for eating insects is “entomophagy” and the U.N. has been trying to convince more people to eat insects since it published a 2013 report entitled, Edible Insects, which it sees as key to establishing food security for the worlds billions in the future. At that time, as reported in National Geographic, over two billion people regularly ate insects, cooked and raw–that figure now stands at 2.5 billion worldwide. Only “in Western countries does the practice retain an "ick" factor among the masses”.
The New York Times reported that Europeans and settlers in North America never had a bug eating tradition because of environmental factors. Europe only houses two percent of the world’s edible insects and these are small (and not worth hunting) by comparison to those found in the equatorial tropics.
Mealworms provide protein, vitamins and minerals equal to fish and meat. Grasshoppers have the same protein content as lean ground beef but much less fat per gram. Raising and harvesting insects is more efficient than pastures of cows in terms of the amount of land required, and better for the planet, with fewer greenhouse gas emissions during the process.