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Consumers are "well informed" about insect-based foods, says European Commission

01 Aug 2023 --- The European Commission (EC) has confirmed that consumers can easily access all the information they need on insect-based foods. The European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides, stated that consumers are already aware of insects as food ingredients in response to questions from members of the European Parliament on insect consumption.

This announcement has been welcomed by ValuSect, a consortium that promotes the use of insects as a sustainable source of protein. It  considers more labels for insect products unnecessary at the moment.

Informative labeling
The EC clarified that food processors who want to sell insect-based food must inform consumers about the presence of insects in their food.

Any food product must have a list of ingredients, including the Latin specific name of the insects, which must be indicated on the packaging. Moreover, information on insects must be clear and legible, using a conspicuous space, large font size and indelible ink. Additionally, the law requires that a warning about the possible cause of an allergic reaction be displayed on the label.

Regarding the insect’s species, the EC explained that the legal name of the insect must be used, which means that the Latin (scientific) name of the insect, followed by its common name in brackets, must be shown.

“While the EC encourages food business operators to keep facilitating access to food information, which ValuSect supports, it does not consider that the use of an additional and specific label for the use of insect-based ingredients in food is needed,” ValuSect explains.

 “ValuSect is pleased that the EC has taken the time to explain the current European legislation and to reaffirm that consumers already have all the information they need before purchasing and eating delicious insect products.”

Insect moves
As the need for alternative proteins rises, insects are spotlighted by some as a novel nutritious food. Edible insects provide many ecosystem services, such as pollination, environmental health monitoring and decomposing organic waste materials. 

In June, the EU moved closer to allowing UV-treated yellow mealworm powder to be sold as a human-grade food. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) issued a positive opinion on the safety and nutritional value of the Tenebrio molitor species after French company Nutri’Earth submitted a novel food application in 2019.

The company expects final authorization in late 2023 or early 2024.

EFSA’s positive opinion closely followed the UK’s approval of crickets as a novel food.

Singapore and Vietnam are other countries enjoying reliable governmental support for using insects as food as companies strive to develop increasingly attractive products for human and animal consumption.

Meanwhile, leading ag-tech company Nutrition Technologies joined forces with Bunge Ventures, its new investor – a leading global agribusiness, food, feed and ingredients company.

Nutrition Technologies uses black soldier fly larvae to bio-convert food waste and industrial organic by-products diverted from landfills with its patent-pending fermentation technology.

By Marc Cervera

Source: Food Ingredients First