On Dec. 29, decrees on the marketing of products derived from four varieties of insects were officially published: the larvae of the lesser mealworm (Alphitobius diaperinus), yellow mealworms (Tenebrio molitor), migratory locusts and domestic crickets (Acheta domesticus). All these insects can be sold in frozen, dried or powdered form.

Importantly, no one will be subject to penalties or complaints for producing, marketing or purchasing foods containing these four varieties of insects. European Union rules, established through the Novel Foods Regulation that came into effect in January 2018, have opened the door to the marketing of insects as novel foods or traditional products from third countries. According to the European Food Safety Authority (Efsa), flours from these insects can be incorporated into various food products, including breads, cookies, breadsticks, crackers, bars, pasta, sauces, milk powder, legumes, pizza, ready mixes for baked goods, processed potato products, soups, and beer.

The Italian government wanted to ensure maximum transparency for consumers with four decrees. Therefore, all insect foods will have to have a clear and visible label providing detailed information on the type of insect contained, the quantity used, the country of origin, and warnings about potential allergic risks. In addition, such products will have to be placed in separate compartments in stores and marked with appropriate signage. This is to protect an informed choice for consumers, who need to know how a product was made, where it comes from and, most importantly, what it contains. In addition, in order to safeguard “100 percent made in Italy” it will be forbidden to use such flours in the preparation of typical Italian cuisine products such as pasta and pizza, Nas in charge of control.

Nearly one in 5 (19%) Italians said they were quite informed on the subject, is only slightly more than one in 10 (15%) are willing to bring foods made with cricket flour to the table.
For at least half of Italians, however, it is a flat-out no to this type of product. Only 24% of the sample supports the sale and 21% the production of foods containing cricket flour. Disgust is the main obstacle to consumption expressed by 68% of people not intending to consume these products even in the future. This is followed by unfamiliarity i.e., misinformation about it (31%), food safety concerns (29%) and, last but not least, price (16%). In fact, a kilogram of cricket flour comes to cost between 70 and 80 euros. *

Brussels points out that in general, insects can be cooked, ground into powder or made into flour and used in various recipes, from bread to energy bars. The list of insects considered “edible” is much longer than one might imagine and ranges from larvae to bugs, ants, grasshoppers, beetles, wasps, hornets and many others. If such business were to take root in the West as well, the turnover by 2027 would be $745 billion with a very high margin for growth.

ITA0039 | 100% Italian Taste Certification by ASACERT, which protects and promotes Italian products through the certification of Italian restaurants around the world, calls on all citizen-consumers to be aware of their food choices and will ensure that insect meal does not enter Italian restaurants around the world in the form of flours or processed products.

* Catholic University, Cremona campus.