EU passes new law, crickets now allowed as ingredient in supermarket foods
A new regulation approved by the European Food Safety Authority means that frozen, dried and pulverised house crickets (Acheta Domesticus) can now be used as an ingredient in foods sold in supermarkets across the bloc.
New EU law allows house crickets in food products
According to EU food regulations, crickets can now be used as an ingredient in supermarket foods. Whether frozen, dried or ground into a powder, the crunchy critters are the most recent insect to be added to the European Union’s list of protein-rich approved foods.
The lesser mealworm beetle has also been added to the list, which has been growing since 2021 when mealworms were the first insects to be approved for consumption in the EU. There are currently eight insect species that the political community deems edible. For each new insect which is brought into the EU food market, companies have to seek approval from the EU commission.
While insects can be a particularly risky ingredient for allergy sufferers, the EU commission emphasised on Twitter that “no one will be forced to eat food containing insects”, and EU regulation means that insects will always be named as ingredients on food packaging, using both the common insect name and the species’ scientific name.
Are insects the future of food?
Throughout history, insects have been a traditional food in many diets, though they have only become a more popular ingredient in western cooking in recent years. This is in large part down to an insect-inclusive diet being touted as environmentally friendly. But are farmed insects really a world-changing alternative to meat production?
In Thailand, the country which currently produces the largest number of farmed insects, farming crickets does produce half as much CO2 and uses 25 percent less water than farming chickens. In the US it takes 2,5 kilograms of feed to produce 1 kilogram of chicken meat and up to 2 kilograms to produce 1,7 kilograms of insects for human consumption.
However, since insect farmers often use poultry feed crops like maize, seeds, grains, vegetables and soy to fatten insects, as is the case with meat, it is more environmentally friendly for humans to consume the crops directly as cooking ingredients.
But what about feeding insects food waste in order to make the farming process more environmentally friendly? This also comes with its problems. A study by the University of California Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources found that since crickets fed on poultry feed grow 75 percent larger than those fed on waste food, there is no economic incentive for farmers to choose to use food waste.