European Union Clears Hurdle for Edible Insects

That fly in your soup may someday be considered garnish.

That’s because the European Union trading bloc’s food safety regulators has deemed mealworms safe for human consumption. The announcement, which came down Wednesday, allows for beetle larvae to be ground down and used as a protein-rich flour. It can also be consumed whole in certain cooking styles and recipes.

The European Commission still needs to sign off on the European Food Safety Authority’s decision.

This could mean good news for companies like Micronutris, a French edible insect farm. Another company operating in France, Ynsect, has already started construction on a farm capable of producing more than 100,000 tons of bugs each year.

Of course, just because edible bugs are becoming more accessible doesn’t mean people will gobble them up. Giovanni Sogari researches social and consumption habits at the University of Parma in Italy. He says it might take a while for people to take to it. “There are cognitive reasons derived from our social and cultural experiences, the so-called ‘yuck factor,’ that make the thought of eating insects repellent to many Europeans.”

An economic statistician at the University of Bologna, Mario Mazzocchi points to the environmental benefits of insect-based proteins; namely the reduction of waste and fewer greenhouse emissions.

Insects are already a part of some people’s regular diet. According to the United Nations, about two billion people regularly - and intentionally - consume insects. Aspire Food Group, an American company, offers up roasted crickets in various flavors ranging from Texas BBQ to sour cream and onion.

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