Bugs have just moved a step closer to European menus as the dried yellow mealworm (the larval form of the mealworm beetle) has been proved to be safe for human consumption in both its whole form and as a powder additive.
The EU’s Food Watchdog Approval
2021 has a promising start with European Union’s food watchdog announcement on mealworms consumption, ruling on an application by French insect farmer EAP Group SAS – Micronutris, now known as Agronutris.
Having the EU Food Safety Authority’s opinion is definitely an important step before officials consider approving sales of protein bars, snacks, cookies, and other foods containing bugs as ingredients.
Farming Bugs as a Growing Business
Researchers predict that the bugs farming business will thrive with over $4.1 billion globally by 2025. Bugs are emerging as a more sustainable source of protein because of their lower environmental impact and high nutritional value.
There are another 14 pending applications for bugs that still need more research as the EU watchdog also shared that allergic reactions are possible. This makes Europe the forefront of the insect-farming startup scene, identifying bugs as part of its sustainable food agenda.
Bugs Might Be the Solution to Feeding the World
The European authorities have poured a lot of money into research and factories. The bloc already allows dogs, cats, and fish to eat insect meals.
The solution to feeding the world with bugs is not as literate as it may sound. Feeding animals, rather than humans is the real answer to that issue. Europe has projected an output of 3 million tons of insect protein in 2030 with only 10% going into human food. The rest is planned to going into animal feed by a Brussels-based lobby group estimate.
There are clearly a lot of opportunities to work with new sustainable ingredients for the animal feed industry, and bugs are one of the most promising sources. In fact, several EU states including Netherlands, Finland, and Belgium already permit sales of bug-containing foods in stores.