Eating insects: Will the approval by the EU of beetle larvae for human consumption open doors for sustainable, bug-based snacks?

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Microbar food truck owner Bart Smit holds a container of yellow mealworms during a food truck festival. Credit: Virginia Mayo
Microbar food truck owner Bart Smit holds a container of yellow mealworms during a food truck festival. Credit: Virginia Mayo

The first EU wide approval of insects for human consumption was granted on [May 3]… The decision came after a positive risk assessment of yellow mealworm – which refers to the larvae of the beetle Tenebrio molitor.

The EFSA opinion concluded that the insect was safe under the proposed conditions of use, but highlighted some allergenic concerns, specifically among those with a known allergy to crustaceans and dust mites.

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While insect-based foods have so far been a niche product, they are viewed as a promising solution to the sustainability challenges facing the food industry, offering a sustainable source of protein that can be grown on minimal resources.

Related article:  French court upholds sugar beet grower exemption from neonicotinoids insecticide ban

According to the European Commission, this use of insects as an alternate source of protein is not new and insects are regularly eaten in many parts of the world.

“It is up to consumers to decide whether they want to eat insects or not,” says a note on the webpage of the EU executive.

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