Coming soon: Food safety rules for bugs

Like it or not, over the past few years, the Western world has been creeping steadily closer toward the idea of insects as mainstream food. (Many Asian and South American countries are worlds ahead in that respect, where insects are often part of meals or sold as tasty street stall snacks.) With the latest move from the European Commission (EC), another step has been taken.

The agency plans to introduce new food safety rules for insects intended for human consumption by adding on to a previously existing regulation that covers all animal-based food products (Regulation (EC) No. 853/2004).

Experts have been saying for years now that as our global population grows, insects could soon prove to be a valuable alternative source of protein, as they can be farmed efficiently. They take up little space and are easy to feed. Already, consumers can get ahold of foods that use insects as an ingredient, like cricket-based flour or insect burgers. Many have proposed using insects in animal feed and pet food, as well.

The EC points out that the European Union already regulates aspects of the insect-for-food trade under its Novel Food Regulation (EU) 2015/2283, but there is still a need for food safety rules covering dead and living insects. Currently existing regulations guide which species of insects can be used for food and how they are placed on the market.

The draft regulation written by the EC can be read online here. The proposal outlines what can be used to feed farmed insects and what materials the feed ingredients may come into contact with. It’s open for public comment until Feb. 20, 2019.

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