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Switzerland is set to become the first European country to sell mealworms as a food source in major supermarkets after their food safety laws were changed. These regulatory amendments are needed, as developing alternative food sources continues to be a critical problem in sustaining the ever growing population.

1,900 insect species have been documented as a food source globally” and are a “well-established source of protein.

Coop, the country’s second largest supermarket chain, has announced that it will start selling insect burgers for human consumption this month. The practice could see more commercial stores throughout the country follow suit in 2017.

Reports state that Swiss food safety laws were changed in May to allow the sale of crickets, grasshoppers, and mealworms as food sources.

According to The Guardian, the supermarket chain announced that insect-based goods such as cricket flour burgers and balls of mealworms will go on sale soon. The products have been manufactured by a Swiss start-up called Essento. Their food will be available in stores around Geneva, Bern and Zurich.

Experts say other European countries are looking to change their food safety laws as well. Possibly leading to insect-based food becoming common place in Europe, and eventually, even in America. The consumption of insects and bugs is already widespread across Asia and the Far East, where the nutritional benefits have already been recognized.

Earlier this year, we reported how the ACS Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry found that eating bugs can provide humans with the same iron, protein and nutrients as beef.

Researchers claimed that insects like crickets, grasshoppers and mealworms can give humans a healthy alternative to eating meat and fulfill that dietary need.

Bugs Popular in Most of the World

Bug burger and a plate of grubs next to it.

Although the practice of eating bugs is not very popular in the Western world, it is more so in Australia and the Far East. Experts point out that what is viewed as unusual in Western societies, can be completely normal in Eastern societies. A different cultural perspective can yield some interesting insights, and potentially the transference of bold ideas from one culture to another.

According to a recent report by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, bugs are included in the diets of many regions around the world, areas that are home to more than 2 billion people.

The report also states that around “1,900 insect species have been documented as a food source globally” and are a “well-established source of protein.”

Switzerland is the first European country to authorize the sale of insect-based food items for humans, and one of the first in the Western world to do so.

Experts say that because Switzerland is such a financially rich and important first world country, it sends the message that eating insects is ‘ok’ and good for your health. This progress could encourage other western nations like the United States and the United Kingdom to follow suit.