The UK Food Standards Agency (FSA), in conjunction with Food Standards Scotland (FSS), has launched a public consultation that aims to bring clarity to the British edible insect industry. FSA also announced that it will allow edible insects to remain on the market in Great Britain while the agency conducts its novel foods authorization process to assess the safety of edible insects. FSA’s consultation on edible insects follows a recent declaration from the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) that provides evidence that edible mealworms are a safe novel food.
FSA has reviewed its policy approach to the authorization of certain edible insects in Great Britain within the scope of the existing transitional measures in the novel food regulations that were retained from the EU after Brexit. At present, only edible insects that have been authorized by FSA or FSS may be placed on the British market, unless the products are covered by the retained transitional measures. In Northern Ireland, EU legislation on novel foods continues to apply.
The policy proposal would allow eligible edible insects to remain on the market in Great Britain, but the products would be subject to a rapid risk assessment developed by FSA. The risk assessment will consider edible insects’ associated allergen risks, microbial and heavy metal contaminants, rearing practices, insect feed, required heat treatment, and labeling.
According to the policy proposal, eligible edible insects may remain on sale if they were marketed in the EU or the UK before January 1, 2018 and were the subject of an application to the EU for authorization as a novel food by January 1, 2019. Applications for the authorization of eligible edible insects must be made to FSA or FSS by December 31, 2023 for the product to remain on the market while it is assessed.
The FSA consultation seeks comments from industry, enforcement authorities, and other interested stakeholders on the agency’s policy proposal to introduce a legislated transitional measure for Great Britain that will clarify the arrangements for businesses seeking a novel food authorization for edible insect products. FSA asks that responses to the consultation are made by August 10, 2022 by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.