Detailed in a public consultation launched today, the plans looked to bring forward the necessary legal changes as soon as possible, depending on the responses received.
If approved, the proposals would allow edible insects to remain on sale if they were marketed in the EU or the UK before 1 January 2018 and were the subject of an application to the EU for authorisation as a novel food by 1 January 2019.
FSA policy director Rebecca Sudworth said: “Our proposals will help businesses that have been affected by the uncertainty around insects for human consumption since the end of December 2020.
Leaving the EU
“When we left the EU, the transitional measures relating to novel foods including edible insects were not amended to require businesses to submit applications to Great British regulators.”
Applications for authorisation of these insects must be made to the FSA or Food Standards Scotland (FSS) by 31 December 2023 for the product to remain on the market while the application is assessed.
“Edible insect products will need to pass through the full authorisation process in Great Britain to remain on the market, so we encourage businesses to talk to us about getting their applications in and the support we can provide through the process,” Sudworth added.
“We want anyone with an interest in edible insects, particularly trade organisations and food businesses, to have their voice heard through our consultation.”
Low safety risks
A generalised risk assessment conducted by the FSA and FSS to support the consultation has found that the safety risks associated with edible insect products are low, provided appropriate measures are in place.
These included hygiene measures during rearing of the insects to avoid contamination, heat treatment, and labelling on allergy risks.
Dr Nick Rousseau, UK Edible Insect Association managing director, said: “Research from our members’ extensive trials and user testing show that edible insect products, when professionally farmed and manufactured, offer the environmentally concerned consumer nutritious, tasty, and safe food products that can meet a significant proportion of their protein needs.
“The support of the FSA will make a huge difference to our ability to prove ourselves in the market.”