UK food businesses that sell edible insects have been asked by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) to prepare for changes to EU regulations that may mean some insects will need approval before sale.
FSA has explained that the European Commission is seeking harmonisation of the novel foods regulations in relation to the sale of edible insects across all member states. Novel foods are food products or ingredients that do not have a significant history of consumption before 1997 and are therefore subject to additional safety checks.
Across the EU, parts or extracts of insects are already subject to novel foods approval. However, individual member states have had different interpretations as to whether this applies to whole insects. In the UK, whole edible insects are not considered novel. If the novel foods legislation is amended as proposed this is set to change by 2016.
“In preparation for these changes, we are asking companies in the UK that sell insects for human consumption to provide us with information that will help the FSA in demonstrating a history of consumption for their products,” said FSA’s head of novel foods, Dr Stephen Johnson.
“If there isn’t enough evidence to demonstrate that insects have been consumed to a significant degree in the EU before 15 May 1997 then these insects would be considered novel. This would mean food businesses will need to supply information to demonstrate safety in order to continue to sell the insects.”
The request, at present, does not include any use of insects in animal feed. Food businesses which come under the request, however, are required to provide relevant information to FSA by September 21, 2015.