EU rules on new food are in force, but are they enjoyed by consumers?
The new EU regulation on the authorization procedure for new food substances came into force at the beginning of 2018. First forbidden foods are now allowed: among these insects, larvae and their derivatives, which at least for now do not meet the approval of the public, especially when they are whole. Although technically between a cricket or a grasshopper and a scampi or a shrimp there are no differences, they are all arthropods. But insects, it is written in the regulation, are included in the definition of "new foods" as food ingredients isolated from animals: they are parts of insects, such as legs, wings, head as well as whole animals. The definition of "novel food" is broad, including new foods and new food regimes that will be subjected to security checks and will be bred according to precise standards. According to experts, this is a sector that is destined to grow rapidly: the business is currently concentrated in Asia and Africa. Insects and derivatives are very rich in proteins and their breeding is carried out in conditions of safety, as well as environmental sustainability: according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, energy consumption is lower compared to that needed for bring meat and fish to the tables. Only by talking about water, to get a kilo of beef it takes more than 15 thousand liters while for the same amount of crickets, the most consumed insects in the world, it takes less than a liter. For Coldiretti, 54% of Italians are opposed to eating it, which consider them to be foreign to the national food culture, while 24% are indifferent, 16% favor and 6% do not answer. Very few, in particular, favorable to the possibility of eating whole insects, according to what emerged from a research of the University of Gastronomic Sciences of Pollenzo (Cuneo) that carried out tasting tests involving volunteers. More availability instead towards products that contain insects in the preparation, such as cricket flour or pasta with larvae flour.