GLOBAL – The European Commission (EC) has confirmed that consumers can easily access all the information they need on insect-based foods as food ingredients in response to questions from members of the European Parliament on insect consumption.
This announcement by the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides, has been welcomed by ValuSect, a consortium that promotes the use of insects as a sustainable source of protein.
As the need for alternative proteins rises, insects are spotlighted by some as novel nutritious food. Edible insects provide many ecosystem services, such as pollination, environmental health monitoring and decomposing organic waste materials.
The EC clarified that food processors who want to sell insect-based food must inform consumers about the presence of insects in their food.
“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 explained.
“I am 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.”
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.
According to Grand View Research, the global insect protein market was worth $250 million in 2020 and is expected to increase by a compound annual growth rate of 27.4% from 2021 to 2028.
In addition according to International Seminar on Agriculture, Biodiversity, Food Security and Health, insects can be considered as human food or as feed. The production of insects seems to be more sustainable than livestock production for some particular reasons: lower greenhouse and ammonia emissions, less land area needed, and the potential to be grown on organic.
In general, insects have high protein content and excellent production efficiency compared with other conventional protein food groups
Moreover, insects are encouraged as a good source of protein and micro and the production of edible insects in developing countries is supported by FAO of The United Nations.
Edible insect proteins also meet the WHO essential amino acid requirements and are more digestible than plant-based and only a little less digestible than animal-based proteins.