Soon we will be able to eat yellow worms: the larvae of the Tenebrio molitor, known as mealworm, or miller darkness. L’Efsa has just given the first green light to human consumption, making them officially included in the list of novel food. It is formally, that is, the first ok to marketing, after a careful evaluation procedure, which followed the procedure dictated by the European Food Safety Authority itself, which in 2018 cleared customs for the food use of insects, reserving however the right to evaluate case by case (and therefore also species by species ).
BECAUSE YOU CAN EAT
I Tenebrio molitor they were the first to have been examined (at the request of a French company), and the first insects for which EFSA has therefore given a complete opinion. The conclusions, as stated in the report, are that “there are no security issues“, that have “a high protein content»,« That consumption is not disadvantageous from a nutritional point of view ». The only limitation concerns allergy sufferers: “The Panel considers that the consumption of this NF (novel food, ed) can induce primary sensitization and allergic reactions to yellow mealworm proteins and can cause allergic reactions in subjects with an allergy to shellfish and dust mites ».
However, before the yellow larvae of these moths arrive on the supermarket shelves it will take at least seven months: the decision will have to go through the European Commission which will have to officially authorize their consumption by actually deciding also for which products they could be used, then by the individual member states of the Union, which will have to give the go ahead to put them on the market.
BUT WE, DO WE WANT TO EAT THEM?
Time ago the debate on the food use of insects is open. In various countries, especially in Asia, their use is widespread, several companies have already launched into the production of foods that use them as a primary ingredient, and precisely for their high protein content (as well as for the ease and low cost of production) FAO considers them one of the possible solutions to world hunger. However, it remains to calculate a factor that EFSA itself, in its conclusions, considers fundamental: the “Disgust factor”. In short, who will be willing to eat them? According to a Coldiretti / Ixe ‘analysis, 54% of Italians consider insects unrelated to the national food culture and would never bring the yellow flour grub to the table, and just 16% are in favor (then there is a 24% indifferent and another 6% who do not answer).