Food of the future? EU nations put mealworms on the menu

BRUSSELS (AP) — Dried yellow mealworms could soon be hitting supermarket shelves and restaurants across Europe.

The European Union’s (EU) 27 nations gave the greenlight on Tuesday to a proposal to put the Tenebrio molitor beetle’s larvae on the market as a novel food.

The move came after the EU’s food safety agency published a scientific opinion this year that concluded worms were safe to eat. Researchers said the worms, either eaten whole or in powdered form, are a protein-rich snack or an ingredient for other foods.

Allergic reactions may occur for people with pre-existing allergies to crustaceans and dust mites, the Commission said.

Insects as food represent a very small market but EU officials said breeding them for food could have environmental benefits. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization calls insects “a healthy and highly nutritious food source with a high content of fat, protein, vitamins, fibres and minerals”.

Following Tuesday’s approval by EU states, a EU regulation authorising dried yellow mealworms as a food will be adopted in the coming weeks.

File photo shows Microbar food truck owner Bart Smit holding a container of yellow mealworms during a food truck festival in Antwerp, Belgium on September 21, 2014. PHOTO: AP