Ian Thomas Associates

Edible insects as novel foods – GB update from 1 January 2024

Edible insects are an alternative source of protein which have been consumed in many parts of the world for many years.

However, as there is no evidence for a significant history of consumption of most edible insects in the UK or EU prior to 15 May 1997, they are considered a novel food.

The GB law on novel foods is contained in assimilated Regulation 2015/2283 on novel foods and related domestic legislation. It may be noted that in Great Britain the EU Regulation is, post January 2024, referred to as assimilated law and not retained EU law.

The essence of the legislation is that novel foods require pre-market safety assessments and an authorisation before they may be lawfully placed on the GB market.

Until 31 December 2023, post-Brexit transitional measures meant that seven species of edible insects could remain on the EU and UK market.

However, a change in GB law provides that edible insects may only remain on the GB market if an application for authorisation as a novel food had been received by the appropriate authority on or before 31 December 2023 (regulation 20 of the Food and Feed (Miscellaneous Amendments) Regulations 2022).

Only four valid applications for novel food status of edible insects were received in time and so from 1 January 2024, the only edible insects that are permitted in GB are:

  • Yellow mealworm (Tenebrio molitor)
  • House cricket (Acheta domesticus)
  • Banded cricket (Gryllodes sigillatus)
  • Black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens)

Food products on the GB market containing any other edible insects are no longer permitted and must be removed from the market until a valid novel food authorisation has been granted.

This may be seen as another aspect of regulatory divergence since the UK ceased to be a member of the EU. This creates issues for food business operators using edible insects and placing products on the EU market and the GB market and further emphasises the importance of obtaining local market compliance advice.

Ian Thomas is a lawyer practising in Ireland and in England and Wales. He is very experienced in advising and representing food businesses across a wide range of food related matters and if we can help to solve your issues or advise on your compliance obligations please get in touch – ian@ianthomasassociates.com.

This article is for information purposes only and does not constitute the provision of legal advice. You should always take independent legal advice in respect of any legal or regulatory issues you may be having.

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