Insects might soon become the next favourite ingredient in European dishes.
A new set of EU rules allowing insect food to be sold in the European Union market came into force on January 1.
Everyone from cricket farmers to producers of insect protein bars will be happy to learn that the new directive - called the 'novel foods regulation' centralises standards, making it easier for EU food businesses to sell insects in the bloc's market.
Previously, rules on insect food were left to each member state to decide, making it difficult for the European insect industry to unite behind a unified regulation.
Insect-food applications will now be handled by the European Commission. The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) will provide safety evaluations to determine whether the product meets food safety requirements enforced by the EU.
The new regulation explicitly covers whole insects as opposed to only insect body parts. Additionally, now all insects fall within the 'novel food' category as "food ingredients isolated from animals".
A 2015 opinion piece by the EFSA said that while the use of insects as a source of food has important environmental, economic, and food security benefits, insect farming can still lead to environmental risks comparable to other animal farming systems.
The Commission is set to compile a list of all 'novel foods' allowed to be sold in the EU market.