A new policy of the Finnish Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry and the interpretation of the Finnish Food Safety Authority Evira on the regulation concerning novel foods and novel food ingredients (EC) No 258/97 allows companies producing insects for food to place whole insects on the market as food products during the year 2017. Until now, selling insects as food products has not been allowed without an authorisation procedure because insects have been classified either as novel foods or non-food products. Together with five other EU countries (Denmark, United Kingdom, Belgium, Holland and Austria), Finland has subscribed to the interpretation that whole insects do not fall within the scope of the regulation concerning novel foods and novel food ingredients (EC) No 258/97 that is currently applied. This makes the market entry easier for certain insects with a history of safe food use.
The new regulation on novel foods (EU) 2015/2283 will be applied in full as of beginning of January 2018. According to the new regulation, all insect products including whole insects and products derived from insects, require a safety assessment and authorisation described in the regulation. Thus, a novel food application is to be submitted as regards insect food products that have legally entered the market in 2017. There is, however, a transitional period allowing the applications to be submitted no later than in the beginning of January 2019. Marketing of insects can be continued during the application procedure. Processed insect products always require an application procedure and no transitional period is applied for them.
Evira’s new interpretation brings the food use of insects under the Food Act, and all the regulations and obligations, including in-house quality control, related to primary production, production and marketing of foods derived from animals apply also to insects. This is clearly in the interest of the consumer.
Evira published a new guideline Insects as food (in Finnish) at the beginning of November. Our novel foods team is happy to help companies with the required authorisation procedures.