EFSA Declares Mealworms Safe for Human Consumption
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) released a scientific opinion in the EFSA Journal on January 13, 2021 evaluating the safety of dried yellow mealworm (Tenebrio molitor larva) and finding in the affirmative. This is EFSA’s first opinion on insects as a novel food.
The opinion, adopted November 24, 2020, considered the uses listed in the novel food application submitted by SAS EAP Group – Micronutris, which included using whole, dried mealworms as snack products and ground, powdered mealworm in various other food products, such as baked goods, energy bars, and pasta. EFSA found that the food is not nutritionally disadvantageous under the proposed conditions and that the toxicity studies it considered did not raise safety concerns. The opinion did note that the mealworm proteins may cause allergic reactions in people allergic to crustaceans and dust mites.
The European Commission requested EFSA’s review of the food under Regulation (EU) 2015/2283, the Novel Foods regulation. The Novel Foods regulation simplifies the authorization procedure for categories of certain foods to allow food businesses to more quickly bring innovative foods to the EU market. The opinion must still be confirmed by the European Commission’s Health Directorate General before mealworms officially become an approved novel food.Advertisement