Flies, worms and crickets crawl onto EU policymakers’ menu….

* EU policymakers working on novel foods law

* Insects seen more likely as animal feed, than human food

* Role in food security, climate protection

By Barbara Lewis

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Houseflies, crickets and silkworms can be safe,

nutritious and more environmentally friendly alternatives to chicken,

beef or pork, research carried out for the European Commission finds.

“Still, they are less likely to be found on

European restaurant menus than in animal

feed, carefully controlled to prevent the kind

of prions, or abnormal proteins, blamed for mad cow disease.”

The Commission, the EU executive, is working on revised legislation on

novel foods, after a previous proposal failed because of opposition to

animal cloning. It asked the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to

research the safety of eating insects.

In a scientific opinion published on Thursday, EFSA said the use of

insects as a source of food and feed potentially had important

environmental, economic and food security benefits. Farming of

insects can lead to lower emissions of greenhouse gases and

ammonia than cattle or pigs and higher efficiency in converting

feed to protein, the report said. “How and to what extent the inclusion

of insects in gastronomy can impact the general consumption pattern

in the population is unclear but (it) holds the potential for a rapid

change in future consumption patterns,” EFSA’s report said.

Belgian supermarket operator Delhaize in 2014 introduced tapenades

based on mealworms in its Belgian supermarkets, but they were not a

hit. “We opted not to have any visible insects in the products to lower

the initial reluctance but even then we saw that the customer wasn’t

ready for it,” a spokesman said.

Insect species believed to have the greatest potential for human food

or animal feed in the European Union include houseflies, mealworms,

crickets and silkworms. Especially in paste or other processed forms,

they are considered asalternatives to mainstream animal sources of

food such as chicken, pork, beef and fish as well as useful for animal

feed.

In the event whole insects are distributed as food, they would be

expected to undergo some processing, such as chilling and drying, and

would be labelled with instructions for use. In some cases, parts of the

insect, such as the wings and legs of crickets, should be removed “to

improve the eating experience and reduce choking risks,” EFSA said,

drawing a comparison with peeling prawns.

Courtesy of Reuters

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