Insects as food

Last updated: 24. January 2023

Insects as food

In many other crops, insects are a natural part of the diet, especially in Asia, Africa or South America. In Europe, the issue is still being viewed with suspicion, but interest is growing. The first companies dare to enter the market with insect products.

A good reason to take a closer look at this product group at this point.

What is the legal classification?

Insects and parts of them fall under the “new” NovelFood regulation, which is valid since 01.01.2018. This means that there is now a uniform EU regulation. Risk assessment and authorisation by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) is required. Producers must submit an application for their product, which is then approved within a few months. EFSA has already initiated testing procedures for insect species such as mealworms or grasshoppers, which are eaten particularly frequently; it can therefore be assumed that these species will soon be approved. The first products are currently expected to be on the market from spring onwards.

What are the nutritional values?

Insects are rich in protein and valuable essential fatty acids, and they also contain vitamins and minerals. There are more than 2000 edible insects. The composition varies greatly from species to species.

A comparison:





ballast materials



kcal / 2303 KJ

kcal / 1918 KJ

kcal / 2341 KJ

kcal / 1449 KJ

<per 100gmealwormsgrillingSoy meal
Energy129 kcal / 540 KJ

What are the dangers?

Insects are contaminated with microbiological germs. On the one hand there are microorganisms on the insect, on the other hand there are of course also microorganisms in the gastro-intestinal tract, which are also eaten (similar to seafood). Insects are generally regarded as carriers of diseases. They can transmit salmonella or other toxin-forming pathogens (Shiga toxin). It is therefore not recommended to eat insects raw.

All foods containing protein can theoretically cause allergies, including insects. From Asian countries allergic reactions up to anaphylactic shock are known. Allergy sufferers should therefore be particularly careful. As insects are still a very new foodstuff for the European market, there are currently no legal requirements regarding allergen labelling.

How are insects bred?

Worldwide, most food insects currently come from the wild. However, the number of insect farms is constantly increasing. Temperatures above 25°C are necessary for insect breeding. The change-warm animals need it beautifully warm, in order to be able to thrive optimally.

Are there ethical concerns?

Is the pain perception of insects similar to that of mammals? How “natural” should the posture conditions be? Is factory farming as critical as in mammals?

The questions how to take animal welfare into account in insect breeding are still unanswered.


There is certainly still a long way to go before insects are on our menu as a holiday feast. For many, the consumption of insects is disgusted. But there are also some who are curious enough to get involved in this food source, which is still new for us. Surveys show that vegetarians are less concerned about insect consumption than mammals. It remains to be seen whether insects, such as sushi, will be able to establish themselves as food in Europe in the future. Processed insects in the form of flour, bars or burger patties are accepted faster on our plates than whole insects.

It is clear, however, that insects can provide high-quality protein. The fact that their consumption is a matter of course in so many cultures should lead us to an unbiased assessment. From an ecological point of view, it makes no sense to include the heat-loving insects from the North Pole to the South Pole on the menu. Finally, regional food and a low CO2 footprint are also an important criterion for a sensible choice of food. But especially in the warmer latitudes it can be quite an enrichment.

Our analyses Recommendation:

package: insects and other food


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Image credits:

    Source: my-lab International | Modified by my-lab International