* 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
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