From next spring Swiss foodies will be able to buy insects such as mealworms, crickets and locusts for consumption, after approval from the government. The Coop supermarket announced on Friday that it plans to start selling insect burgers soon.
The new revised food laws, which bring Switzerland into line with the European Union, will come into effect on May 1, 2017, the cabinet decided on Friday.
From that date, all foodstuffs can be sold in Switzerland, as long as they are judged to be safe and respect legal regulations. Up to present, foodstuffs which were not specifically mentioned in Swiss law were banned. Mealworms, crickets and locusts, for example, could only be sold as pet food.
From May next year insects can be sold legally throughout Switzerland. They will, however, be subject to an authorization to ensure their safety, the government said.
Following the government’s message, the Coop supermarket chain announced that it had been working with the start-up firm Essento to develop insect-based products and would start selling insect burgers and meat balls from next spring.
"By adding certain varieties of insects to the list of ingredients to certain processed foods, we are aiming to create a modern food industry… and create an offer that allows clients to discover a new world of flavours,” said Roland Frefel, head of fresh foods at Coop.
Insects are part of the traditional diets of about two billion people, mostly in Africa, Asia and South America. Over 1,000 species of insects are known to be eaten in 80% of the world's nations. Studies show that insects contain fewer saturated fats than edible animal meat and comparatively more protein, and can be more sustainably produced than meat.
In 2013, a United Nations report advocated the exploitation of bugs as a major future food source for humans.
swissinfo.ch with agencies/sb