The year 2020 has brought about a significant change in the way we think about food. Health is priority over everything else, and our diet has a direct impact on this. Apart from the ongoing trend of immunity-boosting ingredients and foods, researchers have also begun exploring the area of alternative sources of protein in the diet. Insect food is one such field which is garnering more and more interest by the day due to its health benefits. Believe it or not, edible insects are becoming increasingly popular with a number of startups and companies exploring the offbeat food item. In fact, in a recent development, the European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) has approved 'yellow grub' or mealworms as edible human food.
Today we published our first full safety evaluation of #InsectFood, within the framework of our work on #NovelFood applications. What are the main challenges of assessing #insects as food and will Europeans take to insect food? Stay tuned! https://t.co/dUYMwsxDEy— EFSA (@EFSA_EU) January 13, 2021
Interestingly, mealworms are already part of pet food in the European Union. The decision by EFSA allows mealworms to be used whole and dried, as part of dishes such as curries, as well as in the form of flour to make biscuits, pasta and bread.
Rich in protein, fat and fibre, they are likely to be the first of many insects to feature on European's plates in the coming years, EFSA chemist and food scientist Ermolaos Ververis told Reuters. "There is great interest of the scientific community and also the food industry in the edible insect sector," he said.
#Insectfood could also bring environmental & economic benefits, but will Europeans take to it? @unipr Giovanni Sogari:‘There are cognitive reasons, e.g. the ‘yuck factor', the thought of eating insects is repellent to many Europeans, but with time & exposure attitudes can change' pic.twitter.com/EXzNzQxzYT— EFSA (@EFSA_EU) January 13, 2021
People across of the world - including parts of Africa, Australia and New Zealand - already enjoy have foods such as insect bars, cricket burgers and other grub-based foods. Once the European Commission ratifies ESFA's endorsement, Europe will join them. However, it will take some time before consumers adapt to the insect food. "There are cognitive reasons derived from our social and cultural experiences - the so-called 'yuck factor' - that make the thought of eating insects repellent to many Europeans," said Giovanni Sogari, a social and consumer researcher at the University of Parma in Italy.
This move by the European Union paves the way for even more countries to adopt insect food into their diet. Will India be on this list? Let's see what the future holds for us.