EFSA: mealworms deemed safe to eat

14 Jan, 2021

This week EFSA published a scientific opinion on novel food applications including the first completed assessment of a proposed insect-derived food product.

Under EU regulations, any food that was not consumed “significantly” prior to May 1997 is considered to be a novel food. The category covers new foods, food from new sources, new substances used in food as well as new ways and technologies for producing food. Throughout history new types of food, food ingredients or ways of producing food have found their way to Europe from all corners of the globe. Among the recent arrivals are chia seeds, algae-based foods, or baobab fruit.  

Following a request from the European Commission, the EFSA Panel on Nutrition, Novel Foods and Food Allergens (NDA) was asked to deliver an opinion on dried yellow mealworm (Tenebrio molitor larva) as a novel food. The Panel concludes that this novel food is safe under the proposed uses and use levels.

I was interviewed by the EFSA Media Relations Office asking about whether consumers will accept insects as food. This is my quote: Giovanni Sogari, a social and consumer researcher at the University of Parma, stated: “There are cognitive reasons derived from our social and cultural experiences, the so-called ‘yuck factor’, that make the thought of eating insects repellent to many Europeans. With time and exposure such attitudes can change.”

If you are interested in finding out more about consumer’s perception towards edible insects, here below you can find some articles of my group of research:


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