The European Union’s food safety agency has declared yellow mealworms to be safe for humans to eat.
The European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) has declared the yellow mealworm – the larval form of the Tenebrio molitor beetle – to be safe for humans to consume, The Guardian reports.
Yellow mealworms, which were described by The Guardian as “maggot-like”, are now likely to be used in a variety of foods, including pasta and burgers.
The yellow mealworm naturally feeds on detritus, including poop and rotting flesh.
In fact, yellow mealworms are even often used in enclosures for reptiles and birds to consume their excrement:
T. molitor and Z. morio are quick to eat any fruits, vegetables, feces, shed skin, dead insects, dead plants, wood, or other organics to survive.
In addition, mealworms have been used by museum collectors to clean animal skulls of rotting flesh:
There have been some tests performed, and mealworms will In fact clean a skull. As long as a reliable source of water exists, the skull will be cleaned in good time. They are also far easier for amateur collectors to purchase, house, and maintain.
Proponents of mealworm consumption note that they are high in protein and fibre, and have a peanut-like taste when dried.
Liberal academics also believe that increased consumption of mealworms could reduce the rate of climate change.
“There are clear environmental and economic benefits if you substitute traditional sources of animal proteins with those that require less feed, produce less waste and result in fewer greenhouse gas emissions,” said Mario Mazzochhi, a professor at the University of Bologna.
University of Parma researcher Giovanni Sogari blamed Europeans’ “social and cultural experiences” for their aversion to eating the worms, but noted that “with time and exposure, attitudes can change”.
The Guardian report suggests making the mealworms into cupcakes, describing a recipe that readers can use:
Thanks to a recipe provided by Jiminis edible insect company, a yellow mealworm cupcake is easy to knock up with three tablespoons of cocoa, 60g of margarine, an egg, a tablespoon of low-fat yoghurt, 30g of flour and 25g of powdered mealworm – with some whole ones left for later.
Add a little water to the cocoa and mix that into the melted butter, egg, yoghurt and some baking powder. Add in some freshly crushed mealworms. Distribute the mix between moulds and cook for 20 minutes. Glaze the top of the freshly baked cupcakes with some icing sugar – and add the spare mealworms on top for decoration.
It remains to be seen whether this ongoing drive for increased consumption of yellow mealworms will be a success in the European food market.