FRANCE – The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has declared Ÿnsect’s lesser mealworm (Alphitobius diaperinus) safe for human consumption.

Following this opinion, the first regarding this specific insect species, the European Commission (EC) will prepare a draft to regulate the product commercialization in the EU, with final authorization expected by early 2023.

The positive opinion comes after an application by Ÿnsect from 2018 and will allow the frozen and freeze-dried formulations of the lesser mealworm or buffalo worm.

“We welcome with enthusiasm the EFSA opinion on the safety of lesser mealworms. Following last year’s positive outcomes (four authorizations and now two positive opinions on edible insects), this opinion, the first on this insect species, represents another important step toward the wider commercialization of edible insects in the EU,” Alisse Grassi, Communication Manager at the International Platform of Insects for Food and Feed, tells FoodIngredientsFirst.

Ÿnsect is a world leader in the production of protein and natural insect fertilizers. Founded in 2011 in Paris, France, by both scientists and environmental activists, Next40 and B Corp-certified, the company processes insects into high-end, high-value ingredients for pets, fish, plants and humans.

With the green light by EFSA, Ÿnsect has plans to accelerate the commercialization of its products across EU markets.

“As soon as confirmation is given [by the EC], we will address the European market more broadly,” Anaïs Maury, VP Communication and Public Affairs Director at Ÿnsect.

Maury also revealed that Ÿnsect will submit applications for other buffalo and molitor worms ingredients, as EFSA gives authorization to concrete ingredients and not for insects in general.

Demand for insect protein is on the rise among athletes, according to Ÿnsect. A study previously highlighted mealworms are as nutritionally beneficial as the “gold standard” dairy protein.

Cricket protein has also been presented as a more sustainable alternative to whey protein for sports nutrition applications like muscle growth.

According to Maury, “60% of Eastern European athletes are in demand of insect protein products due to its high nutritional quality and incredible performance.”

Ÿnsect predicts that by 2050 there will be a substantial gap, up to 60%, between the supply and demand of protein globally and underscores insect protein as a solution.

“Mealworm protein offers the best of both worlds, as nutritionally beneficial as animal protein, but with a much lower environmental impact,” says Antoine Hubert, CEO and co-Founder of Ÿnsect.

One year ago, migratory locusts (Locusta migratoria) were labeled as safe for human consumption in both frozen and dried formats, following approval from EFSA.

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