Insects for human consumption in Europe are covered under novel food regulation, which requires foods that were not habitually consumed in the EU prior to 1997 to undergo a thorough risk assessment before they can be commercialised. Surveys undertaken in 2010-11 concluded that insects had not been habitually consumed in Europe and were therefore subject to novel foods approval.
However, Belgium and the Netherlands have taken a more relaxed approach, with national rules that allow marketing of novel foods, including insects.
“Luxembourg does not intend at this stage to adopt a more tolerant approach, and no marketing of insects for human consumption is permitted without prior authorisation from the European Commission,” Luxembourg’s food safety service said in a statement issued in late December.
It said further demonstration of insect safety was needed, particularly regarding potential allergic reactions triggered by insect proteins.
Meanwhile, the European Commission has asked the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to review the microbiological, chemical and environmental risks associated with insect consumption and production for food, and its conclusions are expected by July 2015.
Luxembourg’s food safety service “prefers to remain cautious and wait for a clear and common position in Europe and indeed the majority of other Member States”, it said.
Although insects are not widely consumed across Europe, more than two billion people worldwide habitually include insects in their diet. And there are exceptions in the EU, including a beetle soup eaten in France and Germany, a Sardinian cheese called casu marzu made with maggots, and sugared butterfly wings served in the Carnia region of Northern Italy.