The European Food Safety Agency (EFSA) has approved the first insect for human consumption: the yellow mealworm (Tenebrio molitor larva). It is categorized as a novel food (NF) pursuant to Regulation (EU) 2015/2283 (‘food consisting of, isolated from or produced from animals or their parts’, as described in Article 3(2)(v)).
The thermally dried Tenebrio molitor larva (commonly known as yellow mealworm) belongs to the family of Tenebrionidae (darkling beetles) and has the following consumption options: as whole, dried insect (as e.g. finger foods or in burgers) or in the form of powder, added to various products such as energy bars, pasta and biscuits.
The insect’s main components are protein, fat and fiber (mainly chitin). However, there is a possibility that the consumption may induce primary sensitization and allergic reactions to yellow mealworm proteins and may cause allergic reactions in subjects with allergy to crustaceans and dust mites (EFSA Journal 2021;19(1):6343).