FSA investigates insect consumption

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) has launched a consultation into the consumption of insects and
other animals like worms.

The organisation is seeking information from relevant groups about the sale and consumption of whole insects and other animals, such as worms, in the UK, including details of species that are currently on sale.

The move follows a request by the EU Commission for all EU member states to identify insects introduced to the EU market after 15 May 1997, which may, in future, require a novel food safety assessment.

Novel Foods are foods that have not been consumed to a significant degree within the EU before 15 May 1997. All novel foods are required to undergo a mandatory pre-market safety assessment and authorisation under the Novel Foods Regulation (EC) 258/97 before they can be legally marketed in the EU.

Insects and other whole animals are currently exempt from the scope of Regulation (EC) 258/97, largely due to an apparent oversight in the wording of the existing text. However, this situation will inevitably change with future amendments to the Regulation, resulting in insects (etc) that are currently marketed as foods in the EU requiring a novel food safety assessment unless they have been consumed to a significant degree before 15 May 1997.

The FSA said: “At the request of the European Commission, the Food Standards Agency (the UK Competent Authority for novel foods) is carrying out an investigation into insect consumption within the UK which will feed into the EU-wide investigation on this issue.

“The aim is to generate as comprehensive a list as possible of insects and other animals that may require a novel food safety assessment, so that appropriate transitional measures can be incorporated into the updated regulation. We expect that discussions on the updated regulation will take place during 2012.”

Any relevant information should be emailed to the Agency’s Novel Foods Unit at novelfoods@foodstandards.gsi.gov.uk by Friday 2 September 2011.

>> United Nations calls for insect diet to replace red meat


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