EU gives the green light to mealworms as food! (but not for everyone…)

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Update: On 1 June the application became part of the legislation.  SAS EAP Group are now allowed to sell dried whole yellow mealworm larvae, yellow mealworm larvae as powder, and “protein products” (max 10 g mealworm per 100 g), “biscuits” (max 10 g mealworm per 100 g), “legume-based dishes ( max 10 g mealworm per 100 g) and “pasta-based products” (max 10 g mealworm per 100 g). SAS EAP Group has Data protection till 22 June 2026.  Read the regulation here >>

Original post from 5 June 2021 below:

Yesterday morning I had just sent out  #6 edition of my newsletter (where you can read about Australia, Ÿnsect+Protifarm), etc) when I was reached by the news that the European Union finally had voted on Agronutris Novel Food Application and gave it a green light, following the recommendation from EFSA in January. You can read more about EU:s decision here >>

In the text about EU:s decision you can read the following:

What has happened today is one of the final steps in the procedure for authorising yellow mealworm as a novel food. Member States gave their green light for the Commission to allow a food business operator, which had requested this authorisation, to place the product on the EU market. The Commission will now adopt a legal act to that end.

This means:
1. We will have to wait some time for this to take legal effect in all the 27 member states. (see above)
2. They talk about one “food business operator”. In this case it is Agronutris who have been given data protection for five years. This means that Agronutris, until another mealworm application gets approved, will be the only ones that can sell Tenebrio Molitor as human food (that is covered by their application) in all the member states. After the five year period the information is considered generic.
3. But at the same time… the transition rules are still applied in 1/3 of EU:s countries, and in these countries companies can still sell their mealworm products if it is covered by one of the other novel food applications still in the pipeline.
4. There are also applications that have not asked for data protection. If, for instance, BIIFs application for mealworm gets a green light all companies can, from day one, sell mealworms in accordance with this application.

I am happy to read that IPIFFs pressrelease ends with the following statement by IPIFFs secretary general Christope Derrien:

‘Following the EU Member States positive vote on dried Tenebrio molitor products and a recent ruling of
the Court of Justice of the European Union, we are urging EU Member States to make full use of the
possibilities to implement this novel food transitional measure on their national territory, in full
compliance with applicable novel food provisions and EU general food safety and traceability

Looking at the progress of the Novel food applications that are in the pipeline I believe it will take a while to get the next green light. So in waiting for that it is crucial that more EU countries’ food agency’s take the same step as Swedish Livsmedelverket and join the transitional period.

The greenlight given by the 27 member states on Monday 3rd of May 2021 sure was a milestone. But we have still a long way to go before we can be happy with the situation for edible insect startups in Europe.

Bonus: For you who read Swedish (or want to try google translate) Livsmedelsverket last week released a great wikipage that tells us all about the transition rules.

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