Coop’s bug burgers delayed due to lack of available insects
Swiss supermarket Coop has had to postpone the launch of its new insect-based food products due to a lack of approved bugs.
The supermarket chain made headlines last year when it said it intended to launch a new range of products containing insect proteins.
The move was a response to the Swiss government changing the rules to allow insect-based foodstuffs to be sold commercially from May 1st this year as long as they respect the food safety regulations of the Federal food safety office (BLV).
Previously Swiss law specified that unusual foodstuffs such as insect-based products could not be sold without special authorization.
As a result of the change, Coop said it planned to work with Swiss startup Essento to create products such as meatballs and burgers containing ground flour worms and crickets.
However, with no bug burgers yet on the shelves, it appears that Coop and Essento can’t get their hands on the necessary bugs.
“No insects are currently available in Switzerland that are approved as food, either from Switzerland or from the EU,” Essento co-founder Christian Bärtsch told the magazine Handelszeitung.
According to the magazine, the company has been seeking to import the insects from Belgium and the Netherlands, but as yet neither country has granted authorization.
The problem is that insects are not generally approved for human consumption within the EU, meaning bug farms can’t provide Switzerland with the quality control approval it requires.
However, as Handelszeitung points out, Belgium and the Netherlands are among the few countries in Europe that actually do allow the use of insects in foods.
It should therefore only be a matter of time before Essento gets the authorization it needs, a spokesman for BLV told the magazine.
In the meantime, why not use Swiss bugs?
That, too, is proving problematic since there are currently only two companies with the necessary cantonal permit to breed insects for human consumption, reported Handelszeitung.
And since safety rules mean only bugs of the fourth generation can be sold for food, it’s likely to take until September before any Swiss insects are available.
Insects are as rich in protein as meat and fish and contain essential vitamins, minerals and amino acids.
A sustainable and ecological food source, they emit less greenhouse gas and ammonia than conventional livestock.
Currently, Britain and Denmark also allow insects to be sold for food. And next year the EU is bringing in new legislation on ‘novel foods’ which should clarify its stance on insects.