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Insect Burgers are ready to sell like hotcakes in Switzerland—Yum or Ugh?

a close-up photo of a person eating one of the insect burgers in Switzerland

Switzerland is set to become the first European country to sell mealworms as a food source in major supermarkets after its food safety laws were changed. These regulatory amendments are needed, as developing alternative food sources continue to be a critical problem in sustaining the ever-growing population. Coop, the country’s second-largest supermarket chain, has announced that it will start selling insect burgers for human consumption this month. Markedly, 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 Essento, a Swiss startup. The company’s food will be available in stores around Geneva, Bern and Zurich.

Insect Burgers Are Just the Beginning of Something New

Experts say other European countries are looking to change their food safety laws as well. Possibly leading to insect-based food becoming commonplace 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.

a photo of one of Switzerland's insect burgers and a plate of insects held by two hands next to it
Yum or ugh? Would you try eating insect burgers?

Bugs Popular in Most of the World

On the topic of consuming insect burgers: 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 similarly notes that about “1,900 insect species have been documented as a food source globally” and are a “well-established source of protein”.

A Trend with A Potential Global Impact

Switzerland is the first European country to authorize the sale of insect-based food items (such as insect burgers) 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.

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