Mealworms may soon find their place in pasta bowls and dinner dishes in Europe, having become the first insect approved in the region as human food.
Wednesday’s decision by the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) paves the way for the use of whole and dried yellow worms in curries and other recipes and as flour to make cookies, pasta and bread.
Despite their name, mealworms are larvae of beetles rather than worms and are already used in Europe as a food ingredient for pets.
Rich in protein, fat and fiber, they will likely be the first insects to hit European plates in the years to come, Ermolaos Ververis, chemist and EFSA food specialist, told Reuters.
Under his supervision, mealworms were the first insect that the European agency assessed under a “novel food” regulation that came into effect in 2018, sparking a flood of similar applications.
“There is great interest from the scientific community and also from the food industry in the edible insect sector,” he said.
People in much of the world – including parts of Africa, Australia, and New Zealand – already enjoy eating bug bars, cricket burgers, and other grub-based foods.
Once the European Commission ratifies the ESFA approval, Europe will join them.
Some sociologists believe, however, that the particularly strong psychological barriers in Europe mean that it will be some time before the yellow worms start to fly off the supermarket shelves there.
“There are cognitive reasons derived from our social and cultural experiences – the so-called ‘yuck factor’ – that make the idea of eating insects repellent for many Europeans,” said Giovanni Sogari, social researcher and consumer at the University of Parma in Italy.
“With time and exposure, such attitudes can change.”
EFSA said it has received 156 requests for a ‘novel food’ safety assessment since 2018, covering everything from foods derived from algae to a range of insect species.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by The Bharat Express News staff and is posted Platforms.)