EU Food Safety Body Set to OK Edible Insects

A decision from the European Food Safety Authority is expected soon

Fried Crickets
EU residents who have been craving insects — we have good news for you.
JIP/Creative Commons

For the last few years, there’s been plenty of discourse in the food world about eating bugs. For some people globally, the idea of eating crickets or mealworms is bizarre; for others, it’s a standard part of their diet. A 2018 article by Ligaya Mishan in T Magazine noted the pragmatic reasons for this, and also cited examples of how dining on bugs was starting to become popular in some high-end restaurants. Mishan noted that “at the fine-dining restaurant Quintonil in Mexico City, diners pay hundreds of dollars for a tasting menu that might feature grasshopper adobo and escamoles (ant eggs), which the former New York Times food critic Ruth Reichl equated in texture to marshmallows.”

As Mishan noted, Europe is one of the few regions where there isn’t a long tradition of eating bugs. But that’s set to have a significant change soon — at The Guardian, Daniel Boffey writes that a seismic shift is about to occur in the EU’s handling of bugs.

Within weeks the EU’s European Food Safety Authority is expected by the insect industry to endorse whole or ground mealworms, lesser mealworms, locusts, crickets and grasshoppers as being safe for human consumption.

If this ruling does go through as anticipated, it would allow for mass-produced insect-based foods to be available throughout the EU. Beyond the ways in which some insects have an appealing taste, there’s also an environmentally-friendly reason to eat more insects, as Carl Swanson explained at Grub Street in 2016. “Bugs, being coldblooded and short-lived, with a preference for cramped spaces, turn what they eat into protein for us much more efficiently than a cow does,” Swanson wrote.

The EU’s decision could have a larger impact than on menus at homes and restaurants around the continent. It might also help lead the way towards a greener future — not a bad goal to have.

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