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Italian bakery to make bread with insect powder

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An Italian bakery plans to sell loaves of bread made with powder from processed crickets. The ingredients will include processed crickets, the restaurant owner says.

The news comes after the European Commission ruled last month that partially defatted and powdered house crickets (acheta domesticus) can be marketed and sold as ingredients in food in the EU. The powder is sometimes used as an additive to make the products richer with protein.

Enrico Murdocco, a chef who runs Tellia, a local restaurant chain in Turin, told Italian media on Monday that he experimented with a mixture of Sicilian grain during baking tests to soften the flavor of the insect powder.

Newspaper Corriere della Sera quoted him as saying that he was especially happy with the crust and the range of flavors. He said the taste reminded him of hazelnut.

Murdocco expects EU regulators to allow a local farm, which imports cricket powder from Vietnam and sells it as animal food, to also make powder tailored for human consumption. ’I want to put my bread in production at the beginning of March,’ the chef explained. He added that due to the higher production costs and because the bread would be custom-made, the price would be around €18-20 ($19-22) per kilogram. ’I am aware that it will be a niche product.’

Processed crickets are already used as ingredients in some EU countries. Falco, a company based in Alife, southern Italy sells crackers made with cricket powder. ’You may be creeped out by the thought of eating insects, but cricket is actually the new health food that can be conveniently concealed in delicious products,’ the company says on its website.

House crickets allowed as food in EU: A European Commission (27 appointed not elected bureaucrats) ruling permits the insects in defatted and powdered form to now be added to pizza and pasta-based products. Partially defatted and powdered house crickets will officially be able to find their way to EU citizens’ tables starting on January 24. This comes thanks to a European Commission ruling passed earlier this month.

As per the decision, which cited the scientific opinion of the European Food Safety Authority, the additive is safe to use (as was the vaccine?) in a whole range of products, including but not limited to cereal bars, biscuits, pizza, pasta-based products, and whey powder.

Back in August 2021, the European Food Safety Authority concluded that ‘frozen and dried formulations from whole house crickets’ are ‘safe under the proposed uses and use levels.’ The officials noted, however, that the insects may trigger allergic reactions in some consumers.

EU regulations state that adult crickets have to first undergo a 24-hour fasting period so that they ‘discard their bowel content.’ After that, the insects are frozen, washed, thermally processed, have their oil extracted and ground into powder. Any foods containing this novel additive will have to bear ‘appropriate’ labels.

On top of crickets, the European Commission also approved earlier this month the larvae of the Alphitobius diaperinus, known as the lesser mealworm, for human consumption.

Proponents insist that insects could become a major source of animal protein while reducing humanity’s carbon footprint. Insect farms are believed to be much more eco-friendly than traditional animal husbandry. Insects are also being touted as a more affordable alternative to meat. You can share this story on social media.

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