EU insect sector predicts expansion of products containing newly authorized crickets and yellow mealworms
15 Feb 2022 --- House crickets (Acheta domesticus) and yellow mealworms (Tenebrio molitor) have been approved as high protein food ingredients across a broad range of European F&B platforms, including multigrain bread rolls, dried pasta products, “beer-like” alcoholic beverages and chocolate confectionery.
Deemed safe for human consumption – through a three-year process that began in December 2018 – the two insect species have been granted Novel Food authorizations in the EU. This advancement is considered timely as the global demand for diversified alternative protein sources continues to balloon.
“As our dietary habits are rapidly changing and the willingness of consumers to try new protein-rich products is increasing, edible insects are gaining more and more interest all over Europe,” Alice Grassi, communication manager at the International Platform of Insects for Food and Feed (IPIFF), tells FoodIngredientsFirst.
“Consumer’s acceptance is and would be driven by a change in sociocultural aspects and product demand. The novel food authorizations will also play a constructive role in shaping the market, facilitating access to insect-based products in EU countries.”
Plethora of nutritious food and beverage applications
The incorporation of edible insects into consumers’ dietary habits brings high-quality proteins and diverse nutrients that are beneficial for human metabolism and overall health, IPIFF underscores.
“Insects indeed offer more than proteins – they contain vitamins, minerals, fibers and healthy fatty acids, such as omega 6 and omega 3,” says Maximilian Beiter, regulatory affairs manager at IPIFF.
“In addition, there is increasing scientific evidence on the successful incorporation of insect-based ingredients into diverse food products, confirming the versatility of such ingredients.
House crickets and yellow mealworms are now authorized in the EU for sale in frozen, dried and powder forms.
In addition, they are permitted to be added to bread, cereal bars, biscuits, pasta, soups, vegetable-based dishes, pizza, corn flour-based snacks, “beer-like” beverages, alcoholic drink mixes, sauces, meat alternatives, meat products, chocolate confectionery and frozen fermented milk-based products.
The applicability of insect-based ingredients also extends to protein isolates for sports nutrition. US researchers at West Virginia University are currently laying the groundwork for developing efficient protein isolation techniques for crickets, locusts and silkworms.
Parameters of insect rearing
As outlined in the IPIFF Guide on Good Hygiene Practices, insect farming activities are held in closed and clean facilities where all the necessary parameters – such as humidity, ventilation, water and temperature – are carefully monitored.
“Depending on the insect species and their biological features, the rearing and processing processes may vary. The EU regulatory framework, as in all food systems, creates safe and qualitative food and feed products,” details Grassi.
“In the near future, IPIFF is also exploring the regulatory possibilities for using former foodstuffs (resources no longer destined for human consumption) containing meat and fish (such as non-vegetarian pizza and hot dogs) as feed for insects. At the moment, insects are fed with former foodstuff only of vegetable, grain and starch origin.”
With consumers increasingly concerned about the planet, insect appeal has seen a growing interest, with the insect protein market estimated to potentially be worth up to US$8 billion by 2030.
The edible insect pipeline is boosted by European Food Safety Authority approvals made last year – first for yellow mealworms, followed by migratory locusts.
By Benjamin Ferrer
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