Edible Insects May Be Illegal To Eat In Some Western Countries

Edible Insects May Be Illegal To Eat In Some Western Countries

Eating insects is such a commonplace habit in the world that most countries don’t have any specific laws that either ban or approve of insects as a food source. Most countries in the world recognize insects as a given food source. In fact, the only countries that do legally regulate the consumption of insects are located in the European Union and North America. On an international level there are some standards laid out by the World Health Organization and the United Nations concerning what constitutes unsafe food preparation. These standards, which are outlined in a text referred to as the “Codex Alimentarius”, are not legally binding in international law. The codex exists simply as a guide. At the moment, insects are only referred to in the codex as “impurities”. Each country’s government is free to write their own laws concerning edible insects. Most countries in the west do not even specifically address insects unless illegal or regulated food contaminants are being mentioned.

In the United States, the Food and Drug Administration has not yet officially recognized any insects as food. FDA regulations mention insects as contaminants that must be limited in food products during processing and packaging. Luckily for the few Americans that cannot get enough edible insects, officials with the FDA have gone on record to say that insects can be legally considered food if they are being consumed as food or ingredients in food. The FDA does forbid “wildcrafted” or foraging insects due to concerns over pesticide contamination.

In Canada and the EU, federal regulatory agencies must evaluate the safety of  what is legally referred to as “novel foods”. Foods that have been recognized as having a long history of consumption by humans are legally permitted for consumption. However, it must be proven that insects fit this category before Canadian regulators permit the sale of edible insects. In the EU “novel foods” include foods which have not been consumed to a significant degree in Europe. Of course, this includes insects, which makes edible insects technically illegal to consume under EU law. But edible insect aficionados in Europe do not have to despair as European researchers are working fast to demonstrate the safety of consuming edible insects.

Do you think that the European Union will officially declare edible insects as safe to consume before the Food and Drug Administration will?


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