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307. Approval of First Insect as Novel Food in the EU

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In the EU, when a new food, or a food that has not been consumed by humans in the EU, is introduced to the market after 1997, a committee of all EU member states goes through the process of approving it as a Novel Food. The current regulations, which will apply from 2018 onwards, clearly state that the entire insect is a novel food.

The approved novel food is the larvae of yellow mealworm, Tenebrio molitor, a chironomid beetle. It is rich in protein and other nutrients and is already being used as food for pets. It is also eaten by humans in Africa, Australia and other regions.

With this approval, it is expected that the dried whole product will be used in the EU as a snack or as a powdered food ingredient. The approval means that it has been determined that it does not pose a safety risk to human health. However, people who are allergic to crustaceans or mites may have allergic reactions to the product, so specific labeling regarding allergenicity is required.

There are currently 11 other insects pending EU approval, and the FAO featured insect eating in its 2013 report. Globally, the use of insects as a source of protein is not uncommon. Insects are considered to be highly nutritious and have a lower environmental impact compared to livestock.

In a previous Pick up article, I introduced the world's first approval for the sale of cultured meat. As you can see, insect diets, plant-based meat alternatives, and cultured meats have become a trend in the global food industry, and the process of official approval seems to be underway in many places.

This is due to the fact that livestock production is attracting attention as a source of greenhouse gas emissions, and reducing the consumption of animal products, including meat, is seen as one of the measures to combat climate change. At the UN Food Systems Summit scheduled for this year, the focus will be on food as the key to balancing human health and environmental sustainability. In order to ensure that all 10 billion people eat a healthy diet and to establish a sustainable food system by 2050, the strategy is to increase the consumption of plant-based foods such as fruits and vegetables and reduce the consumption of animal-based foods. The year 2021 is also the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables, which aims to promote the consumption and production of fruits and vegetables that contribute to a sustainable food system.
 

References
EU: Approval of first insect as novel food
Accessed on May 31, 2021.

https://ec.europa.eu/food/food/novel-food/authorisations/approval-first…

FAO 2013. edible insects: future prospects for food and feed security
http://www.fao.org/3/i3253e/i3253e.pdf Accessed on May 31, 2021.

Contributor: SHIRATORI Sakiko (Information and Public Relations Office)