15 Feb 2022 — House crickets (Purchased domesticus) and yellow mealworms (Tenebrio molitor) have been approved as protein-rich food ingredients on a wide range of European F&B platforms, including multigrain bread rolls, dry pasta, “beer-like” alcoholic beverages, and chocolate confectionery.
Considered safe for human consumption – thanks to a three-year process that began in December 2018 – both species of insects have obtained Novel Food authorizations in the EU. This breakthrough is seen as timely as global demand for diverse alternative protein sources continues to grow.
“As our eating habits are rapidly changing and consumers’ willingness to try new protein-rich products increases, there is growing interest in edible insects across Europe,” said Alice Grassi, Head of communication to the International Platform for Food and Insects. Flow (IPIFF), indicates FoodIngredientsFirst.
“Consumer acceptance is and would be driven by a change in socio-cultural aspects and product demand. Novel food authorizations will also play a constructive role in market formation, facilitating access to insect-based products in EU countries.
Plethora of nutritious food and drink apps
Incorporating edible insects into consumers’ dietary habits provides high-quality protein and various nutrients beneficial to human metabolism and overall health, IPIFF points out.
“Insects indeed offer more than protein – they contain vitamins, minerals, fiber and healthy fatty acids, such as omega 6 and omega 3,” says Maximilian Beiter, Head of Regulatory Affairs at IPIFF .
“Furthermore, there is growing scientific evidence on the successful incorporation of insect-based ingredients into various food products, confirming the versatility of these ingredients.
House crickets and yellow mealworms are now permitted in the EU for sale in frozen, dried and powdered form.
In addition, they are allowed to be added to bread, cereal bars, cookies, pasta, soups, vegetable dishes, pizzas, cornmeal snacks, “type” drinks. beer’, mixes for alcoholic beverages, sauces, meat substitutes, meat products, chocolate confectionery and frozen fermented milk products.
The applicability of insect-based ingredients also extends to protein isolates for sports nutrition. US researchers from West Virginia University are currently laying the groundwork to develop efficient protein isolation techniques for crickets, locusts and silkworms.
Insect farming parameters
As stated in the IPIFF Guide to Good Hygienic Practice, insect rearing activities take place in closed, clean facilities where all the necessary parameters – such as humidity, ventilation, water and temperature – are carefully monitored.
“Depending on the species of insects and their biological characteristics, the breeding and transformation processes may vary. The EU regulatory framework, as in all food systems, creates safe and high quality food and feed,” Grassi explains.
“In the near future, IPIFF is also exploring regulatory options for the use of legacy foods (resources no longer intended for human consumption) containing meat and fish (such as non-vegetarian pizza and hot -dogs) as insect food. Currently, insects are fed with ancient foods only of vegetable, cereal and starchy origin.
With consumers increasingly concerned about the planet, there is growing interest in the lure of insects, with the insect protein market estimated at US$8 billion by 2030.
The edible insect pipeline is boosted by European Food Safety Authority approvals granted last year – first for yellow mealworms, followed by migratory locusts.
By Benjamin Ferrer
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