Would it bug you to eat this?

The good times may be coming to an end. As part of the fight against hunger and to reduce animal husbandry due to its negative impact on the environment, the European Union has developed a specific strategy adding to the food variety present on the EU markets – the so-called Novel Food list.

Hermes Rivera | Unsplash

For years, scientists and industry have been sending clear signals about the risks of food shortages and the environmental impacts of food production. Empty supermarket shelves during the COVID-19 pandemic gave all of us an idea of how difficult it might be to find our favorite and essential products in the stores. The shortages have a range of possible causes. The most salient threats are extreme weather-related natural disasters (droughts, floods, or landslides), crop pests, and animal and human disease outbreaks. There are also political and economic risks. The drivers of food insecurities are often interlinked and mutually reinforced. There have been many proposed solutions to deal with the dangers of food shortages and to minimize the impact of food production on the environment. One solution that is gaining attention is the EU’s regulation about Novel Food.

Novel Food is food that had not been used for human consumption in the EU to a significant degree before 15 May 1997. This term can refer to newly developed, innovative food, food produced using new technologies and production processes, and food that is or has been traditionally eaten outside the EU. It is worth noting that novel food is considered safe for health. Its introduction to the market is preceded by numerous studies and an analysis of potential side effects related to its consumption by humans. To not mislead consumers, these products have to be also adequately labeled.

They are a nutritious and delicious sustainable protein source that tastes slightly nutty. Freeze-dried and unseasoned, they can be used in both sweet and savory dishes, or you can eat them straight out of the pack. Sounds delicious? Would you like to try yellow mealworms? Marketing professionals know how to market any product. Europeans may not be used to such delicacies yet, but yellow mealworms are authorized to be placed on the EU market from May 2021. Some products on the novel food list, such as chia seeds, noni fruit juice, UV-treated milk, or bread, will not surprise you. Some products as mealworms and rooster comb extract might attract your attention. Novel Food catalog is open, and new, tasty snacks may appear anytime.

Food companies are constantly looking for new ways to maximize nutritional value while minimizing the impact on the environment. Cookies or pasta made from yellow mealworms, bacteria engineered to make sugar from carbon dioxide, or cultivated meat. Frankenfood or food of the future? Bon Appetit!

Jolanta Ciopcińska

European Commission: Novel Food
WFP: 2021 Global Report on Food Crises
European Commission: Approval of second insect as Novel Food

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