Saturday 21 October 2017

Now edible insects set to fly off the shelves

Neil Whippey runs a food company Eat Grub with Shami Radia and the pair co-authored ‘Eat Grub: The Ultimate Insect Cookbook’ (Stock picture)
Neil Whippey runs a food company Eat Grub with Shami Radia and the pair co-authored ‘Eat Grub: The Ultimate Insect Cookbook’ (Stock picture)

Bradley Gerrard

Serious moves are being made to put crickets, grasshoppers, buffalo worms and mealworms on our menus.

Those who believe that insects are both a valuable source of protein and a food that requires less energy to produce, claim a big change is on the way. "It is something people are taking quite seriously," says Mark Ramsden, an entomologist with ADAS, an independent agricultural and environmental consultancy in the UK.

He says there has been a shift in how serious people are about nurturing entomophagy - otherwise known as insect eating - as well as insect farming.

"It's the biggest change I have seen," he says. "When we first started talking about this it was all about novelty and people wanted to see photos of someone with a cricket in their mouth but now it is more about 'how do we do this' and the legal aspects. People want to know what they can and cannot do."

Novelty

Neil Whippey runs a food company Eat Grub with Shami Radia and the pair co-authored 'Eat Grub: The Ultimate Insect Cookbook'.

The company's flagship product is its cricket powder energy bars. "People talk about it in the right way now, not as a novelty," he says. "We're at a tipping point."

Not everyone is convinced. Jane Milton, who has worked with food producers and retailers for 25 years, is sceptical that insects can be a mass-consumer product. Companies she has spoken with that sell insect-based products had not seen the demand they expected.

"People could eat less meat and still have plenty, as most people eat more protein than they need," she says. "Some people have spent their whole lives keeping insects out of what they're eating. There's still that thing to get over."

European countries have been able to decide for themselves on whether to allow people to eat whole insects but the EU is seeking continent-wide legislation.

EU regulations allow food ingredients extracted from insects but are ambiguous about whole insects. This is expected to be clarified next year. Patrick Durst, a senior forestry officer for the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation, says insects are unlikely to become a major part of the European diet soon. "What is more likely to happen is that food processors will increasingly use insect components in prepared or processed foods."

Irish Independent

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