Mealworms first insects to be officially approved as food
The larvae of the beetle Tenebrio molitor became the first insect ever to be approved for consumption in the EU. The EU member states approved a corresponding proposal from the European Commission. The novel food is considered safe following a review by the EU Food Safety Authority EFSA. However, the German Federal Office of Consumer Protection and Food Safety warned that eating the yellow mealworm could “lead to allergic reactions in sensitive individuals.” Therefore, the label must carry an allergy statement.
The dried larva of the mealworm may now be sold as a whole snack or ground. As a powder additive, for example in protein and pasta products or cookies, a proportion of up to ten percent is permitted. The approval initially applies only to the French company submitting the application, which can now sell the larvae on its own for five years. After that, competitors will also be allowed to market the worm.
Insects are considered a sustainable source of protein thanks to their lower environmental impact and high nutritional value. In many parts of the world, crickets, grasshoppers or mealworms are already everyday fare. In Europe, the sale of foods containing insects is not banned in principle, but has so far enjoyed a niche existence. According to EFSA, the risk assessments of 14 other insect products are currently pending.