EU Novel Food legislation and other EU requirements applying to insect food producers

Insects as novel foods – an overview

In addition to the ‘general food hygiene requirements’, the production and marketing of insects as food in Europe is governed by the ‘Novel Foods’ legislation – i.e. Regulation (EU) No 2015/2283. This legislation applies to all categories of foods that ‘were not used for human consumption to a significant degree’ within the European Union before 15 May 1997, which is the case of insects. On this page, we aim to guide you through the key documents of relevance for the policy file ‘EU novel food legislation’, by answering the following questions:

Where do we stand?

Are insects on the EU market already?

How does the authorisation process look like?

Can edible insects be imported into the European Union?

How can IPIFF help?

Useful document

Where do we stand?

Presently (Q3 2023), six Novel Food authorisations have entered into force for edible insects. Find out more below.


Following the positive EFSA opinion from July 2022, on the 6th of January, the European Commission published the Implementing Regulation authorising frozen and freeze-dried formulations of lesser mealworm (Alphitobius diaperinus) as Novel Food. The authorisation came into effect on 26 January 2023.

On the 4 January 2023, the European insect sector also welcomed the Commission’s Implementing Regulation authorising partially defatted whole house cricket (Acheta domesticus) as Novel food.  The authorisation came into effect on 24 January 2023

Read more about it in the IPIFF Press Statement.

INFO SHEET on the commercialisation of edible insects in the EU

INFO SHEET – Types of Novel Food Applications


In the beginning of 2022, the European Commission published the second of frozen, dried and powder yellow mealworm (Tenebrio Molitor) and the first authorisation of dried, ground and frozen house cricket (Acheta Domesticus) respectively on the 8th and 11th of February (following the 3rd and 4th EFSA opinions in August 2021). The authorisations entered into force respectively on 28 February and on the 2nd of March 2022. Read more about it in the IPIFF Press Statement.

In May 2022, the Parma-based Agency (EFSA) published the 5th opinion on edible insects, namely on the partially defatted house cricket (Acheta Domesticus).

On 4 July 2022, EFSA published its 6th opinion on edible insects, namely on the safety of frozen and freeze-dried formulations of the lesser mealworm (Alphitobius diaperinus larva). This authorisation is the second for this species and follows the EFSA opinion published in May 2022.


Following the 1st EFSA opinion covering an insect species (January 2021), dried yellow mealworm (Tenebrio molitor) has been authorised on EU level as the first insect food product and the Novel Food Regulation entered into force in June 2021 (more in the IPIFF Press Release).

Following the 2nd positive opinion (July 2021), on the 15th of November 2021, the European Commission has authorised dried and frozen migratory locust (Locusta migratoria) as Novel Food. For more information, please refer to the IPIFF Press Statement.

A list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) –  2023 version –  on this subject may be accessed here. These FAQs are also covered by the IPIFF Briefing paper on novel foods (updated in 2021).

Are insects on the EU market already?

Transitional measure and ‘novel status’ of insects under the formerly applying legislation

In several EU countries, insect producers may continue to commercialise their products, even in the absence of EU novel food authorisation. Indeed, article 35.2 of Regulation (EU) 2015/2283 provides for a transitional measure that aims to ensure that products which were lawfully commercialised in a Member State of the EU before 1st January 2018 – i.e. date of application of the ‘new’ novel food legislation – may remain on the market of this particular country for a given period of time, subject to certain conditions.

Summary overview of the respective scopes of Regulation (EC) No 258/97 and Regulation (EU) 2015/2283 in respect of whole insects, parts of whole insects and insect-based preparations
memeber states map

Several EU Member States, however, deny the benefit of this transitional measure: in a context where the qualification of ‘whole insects’ as novel foods was legally uncertain under the formerly applying Regulation (EC) No 258/97 – unlike insect-derived ingredients (see scheme) – several EU Member States considered that a novel food authorisation was already required for these operators to be entitled to commercialise their products, whereas other countries did not. Such diverging interpretations have led to a very ‘heterogeneous’ application of article 35.2 transitional measure across the European Union.

For more information on the transitional measures, please refer to the IPIFF Contribution Paper on the application of the Novel Food transitional measures.

Following the publication of the CJEU ruling in the case C-526/19,  IPIFF encouraged insect business operators to clarify the possibility to apply the transitional measure in Member States where this was denied (read the IPIFF Press Release here).  Additionally, IPIFF published a briefing note on the detailed legal analysis jointly conducted with the law firm Bird&Bird.

How does the authorisation process look like?

Pursuant to this legislation, insect producing companies must receive an a priori authorisation – granted by the European Commission (EC) following endorsement by EU Members States – to be entitled to commercialise their products across the European Union: to this end, the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) carries out a complete review of the documentation provided by the company and compiled in the so-called ‘Novel Food application’: this evaluation serves to assess the potential safety risks implied by the consumption of the product, and thereby to substantiate the final decision to authorise or not its commercialisation at EU level.

Download Regulation (EU) No 2015/2283 on novel foods

INFO SHEET – How to submit an application for an edible insect Novel Food authorisation 

Novel Food applications

Novel Food applications must be submitted to the European Commission services, through the e-submission system available on the DG SANTE website (European Commission).

The European Commission has developed practical guidance on how to submit an application, which is available through the following link.

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Standard Authorisation Procedure

Standard authorisation procedure

On one hand, Regulation (EU) 2015/2283 – in article 10.2 – sets out the main pieces of information to be included in the novel food application, whereas the required format for the organisation and presentation of this information is defined in the implementing Regulation (EU) 2017/2469.

On the other hand, Regulation (EU) 2015/2283 – in its chapter III – outlines the procedural steps to be followed by the EC, the EU Member States and EFSA during the authorisation process: with the recast of the novel foods legislation, the EU legislator introduced, for the first time, a centralised authorisation procedure that is managed by the EC and relies on EFSA as sole risk assessment body. Furthermore, the new legislation introduces compulsory deadlines for EFSA and the EC to ‘perform their duties’.

Two distinct procedures are open to insect producers:

  • The ‘standard’ procedure
  • The ‘notification procedure for traditional foods from third countries’.

Download Regulation 2017/2469 laying down administrative and scientific requirements for applications referred to in Article 10 of Regulation (EU) 2015/2283.

Generic authorisation system

Although insect producing companies must receive an a priori authorisation – see introduction – all authorisations then become ‘generic’: this means that subsequent operators producing previously authorised insect species are entitled to place the concerned product freely on the EU market.

An exception to the above principle is however admitted when the prior authorisation is ‘data protected’– pursuant to article 26 of Regulation 2015/2283: in such a case, its producer benefits from a market exclusivity of 5 years following the authorisation of the product.

Furthermore, the ‘generic’ principle only applies if the product forming part of the subsequent novel food application complies with the same specifications (e.g. acceptable limits of biological and chemical contaminants in the concerned product) as of the previously authorised product. If that is not the case, such operator must request a so-called ‘extension’ of a novel food authorisation, and therefore submit a ‘new’ application to the European Commission.

INFO SHEET – applicable legislation for edible insects in the EU

Can edible insects be imported into the European Union?

Standards for imports of insects as food into the EU are defined by the Official Controls Regulation (EU) 2017/625. In March 2019, the EU Legislator adopted a ‘package’ of EU Regulations (i.e. five Regulations which set out the import conditions for animals and goods for human consumption). These documents also address the case of insects as food specifically, including its compliance with EU requirements for food and food safety, a model official certificate for insects and a list of countries authorised for imports. IPIFF has developed an Information note on the ‘Latest regulatory developments regarding the establishment of EU import conditions for insects intended for human consumption’ 

INFO SHEET – Exports-imports insects as third country traditional food 

How can IPIFF help?

IPIFF has developed a series of Guidelines with the aim to assist insect producers in the preparation of application for authorisation required under the EU novel food legislation

  • Administrative Guidelines which provide an overview of the different steps to be followed by insect producers with the view to submitting an application. These summary guidelines are accompanied with a briefing paper, which explains the procedural steps in further details.
  • Scientific Guidelines accompanied with a database of publicly available reports which provides an overview of the pieces of evidence and scientific demonstration that may be presented by insect producers to support their application. A summary report of the Guidelines is available below.