Crickets might become the next go-to protein fix in Europe, Source: Depositphotos

EU legalizes snacking on insects

EU legalizes snacking on insects

Here it may seem like an odd novelty, but the rest of the world has been doing it since the dawn of times

What’s for dinner tonight? Sauteed chicken, beef steak or fish fillets…or how about some crickets as protein? Yes, as of today, 24 January, the latter option will also be possible after the European Commission has allowed the use of insects in food products in the bloc.

Europeans can finally enrich their diets with insects and although the idea may seem odd, unappealing or even repulsive to some, the issue is more one of cultural unawareness of the benefits of the little critters as a food source rather than their taste.

For the time being, only four types of insects have been legalized for the European food market. As of today, retailers can offer domestic crickets (Acheta domesticus) for consumption. And from Thursday (26 January) the same goes for the larvae of the minor mealworm (Alphitobius diaperinus). The larvae of locusts and common mealworms have also gotten the green light, according to European Food Agency News.

The legalisation, however, concerns the defatted powder form of house cricket specifically produced by one company (Cricket One Co. Ltd). It is intended to be marketed as a food ingredient in a number of food products for the general population.

Likewise, the mealworm larvae have been approved only as produced in food form by one manufacturer - Ynsect NL. The larvae can be used in frozen, ground, dried, and powder forms as a food ingredient in a number of food products, and in powder form in food supplements.

Food products will have to contain labels indicating the presence of insect proteins.

Crickets can chirp, but crickets can be chips, too

Eating insects is not a fad or a culinary fashion. In fact, it has been quite the norm for millennia across many cultures around the world. They are considered a cheap and easily available source of protein, not to mention the lack of fats. Most of the insects are actually inherently tasteless, but so are many protein shakes in that regard if we need a comparison.

If anything, the appearance of insects on European tables would not be a novelty, but rather a return to ancient traditions. According to National Geographic, Greeks and Romans regularly dined on beetle larvae and cicadas and considered them delicacies.

Insects only became a taboo in the menus when they started being seen as destroyers of harvests in an increasingly agrarian Europe.

Are things about to change in our eating habits? With a society ever more conscious of healthy eating choices and sustainability impact, it is likely that insects will start becoming a common sight in the food aisles of our grocery stores. But it may take a generation or two to fully adopt the changes.

The article has been edited and updated to include information from EU Commission regulations concerning the legalization of insect novel foods.



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