Whole insects do not fall under old Novel Food regulation, rules EU Court of Justice

By Flora Southey

- Last updated on GMT

Pic: GettyImages/MichalLudwiczak
Pic: GettyImages/MichalLudwiczak

Related tags Insect ECJ

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has judged that ‘food consisting of whole animals, such as whole insects, does not fall within the scope of Regulation (EC) No 258/97 on novel food’. The news has been welcomed by the International Platform of Insects for Food and Feed (IPIFF).

The ECJ announced the ruling earlier this month, which sees whole insects fall outside of Regulation (EC) No 258/97 on novel food.

While the ‘new’ novel foods legislation (Regulation (EC) No 2285/2015) – enforced 1 January 2018 – already clarifies that whole insects are subject to EU authorisation since 2018, the previous legal text did not impose such obligation.

The ECJ’s ruling now clarifies this uncertainty for insect producers in operation before 2018.

“This ruling is important as it may put an end to the uncertainty that insect producers who commercialised products before 1 January 2018 have been facing,” ​confirmed Secretary-General of the International Platform for Insects for Food and Feed (IPIFF), Christophe Derrien.

So what will this ruling change for insect producers in Europe? Operators who would have commercialised such products, in accordance with EU food safety rules, may continue with their activity until the first novel food authorisations enter into force, as permitted by the new EU novel foods legislation, the IPIFF explained.

In certain Member States, producers were denied this possibility, the membership body continued, due to the legal uncertainty. “This ruling, therefore, now clarifies that these measures were not justified,” ​the Secretary-General added.

The judgement is undeniably an ‘important milestone’ for the development of the European edible insect sector. However, IPIFF Executive Committee Member Bastien Rabastens stressed the novel food authorisations remain the most critical step towards providing wide EU market access for edible insect products.

IPIFF said it hopes the first European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) opinions will be adopted and published in the following weeks. “These opinions should pave the way to the first ‘novel food’ authorisations expected in mid-2021,” ​continued Rabestens.

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