UK novel food approval for crickets edges closer after FSA greenlights first validity stage
23 May 2023 --- The UK Edible Insect Association (UKEIA) has revealed its Novel Food dossier for Acheta domesticus, commonly known as house crickets, has been deemed “within the scope of novel foods regime and valid.” Speaking to FoodIngredientsFirst, Dr. Nick Rousseau, CEO and international collaboration consultant at UKEIA, says the approval will give a substantial vote of confidence from a safety perspective.
“We already know the products are safe and the Transition Arrangement gives a legal basis for selling products containing crickets in the UK, but this will just ratify that,” he explains.
Rousseau believes UK consumers are “very interested in trying new food products and increasingly aware of the need to balance the environmental impact of what they eat with their needs and preferences.”
He cites a recently-published Food Standards Agency (FSA) study that found “80% of consumers are aware of edible insects, 50% already think they are safe and 26% would be willing to try eating them.”
“We have members making great progress in the market, which builds confidence in the demand where the product is right. UK edible insect businesses are highly innovative and energetically working on the best ways to meet consumers where they are while demonstrating insects’ potential to offer delicious food items and dishes,” Rousseau underscores.
Commenting on how long he expects full approval of the dossier, Rousseau says there “are several possibilities,” adding that UKEIA is currently discussing it with its members.”
UKEIA submitted its dossier to the FSA on December 10, 2021, and its Novel Foods representative, Dr Geoffrey Knott, received the notification on 12 May.
“It’s great to have finally made progress toward authorization after 18 months in progress,” affirms Knott. “This is a positive step forward for our emerging insect industry, which desperately needs regulatory certainty and support from the UK government.”
The notification does not mean Acheta is now authorized, only that the application has passed the first validity stage. The UKEIA believes that its application will now progress onto assessment.
Making moves in insect consumption
This is a second major milestone for the UK edible insect sector and deemed a vital step toward British consumers benefiting from this highly versatile and sustainable alternative source of protein.
Once the FSA and ministers approve this, it will open up the market for products containing Acheta domesticus, as the dossier will be publicly available and enable others to enter the market in the coming years.
The UKEIA expects the final approval could take a further 12 months to achieve. Still, the Statutory Instrument laid by the Government in Parliament last year means that a Transitional Arrangement covering edible insects is in place so that companies can continue to trade in edible insects while approval is secured.
Knott says the UKEIA inherited the EU’s Novel Foods regulation and is “trying to forge the best path toward bringing our innovative products to market to create a more sustainable and resilient food system.”
“After this validity check, we will have a much clearer understanding of the authorization process – including the costs and timelines – which may provide us with enough confidence to apply for approval for more insect species and insect-based products,” he explains.
Aaron Thomas, chair of the UKEIA board, adds: “We’re glad to hear that our applications have passed initial inspections and hope they can pass through assessment quickly and without further hold up. We’ve come a long way since our early discussions with the FSA about these issues in 2021.”
It has been widely reported that insect protein can help feed a growing world population and contribute to environmental sustainability goals, but the rise of plant-based diets and complications around halal and kosher certifications are threatening to dilute the industry’s global impact.
On the regulatory front, insect protein innovators in the EU, Singapore and Vietnam are enjoying reliable governmental support, as companies strive to develop increasingly attractive products for human and animal consumption.
Moves are also being made in the pet food market. Ÿnsect launched a B2B2C brand called Sprÿng. The brand’s ingredients are marketed with scientifically proven benefits and boast a low environmental impact. According to the French insect producer, Sprÿng embodies the company’s strategy to “revolutionize” the food system for humans and pets.
By Elizabeth Green
To contact our editorial team please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Subscribe now to receive the latest news directly into your inbox.