Transitional measures in effect for edible insects after FSA U-Turn

The Food Standards Agency (FSA) have reviewed the policy approach to authorisation of certain edible insects in Great Britain (GB) within scope of the existing transitional measures in the novel food regulations retained from the European Union (EU) (see specifically Article 35(2) of retained Regulation (EU) 2015/2283). 

The FSA clarified this summer that the letter they published in August 2021, which stated that the transitional measures ended on 2 January 2020, was incorrect and have updated with local authorities that the transitional provision continues to apply in Great Britain.  

The proposals set out in a consultation published over the summer would allow edible insects to remain on sale if they were marketed in the EU or the UK before 1 January 2018 and were the subject of an application to the EU for authorisation as a novel food by 1 January 2019. 

Applications for authorisation of these insects must be made to the FSA or FSS by 31 December 2023 for the product to remain on the market while the application is assessed.  

A generalised risk assessment conducted by the FSA and FSS to support the consultation has found that the safety risks associated with edible insect products are low, provided appropriate measures are in place. These include hygiene measures during rearing of the insects to avoid contamination, heat treatment, and labelling on allergy risks.

This is a positive step for the edible insect market and shows a pragmatic risk based approach by the FSA. However, the regulatory no-mans land the sector had found themselves in during the aftermath of the FSA's August 2021 letter and the delay in rectifying this should not be permitted to happen again.  The lack of any known prosecution by local authorities does however show their own proportionate and risk based approach to food safety in operation.

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