Safety of dried yellow mealworm (Tenebrio molitor larva) as a novel food pursuant to Regulation (EU) 2015/2283

EFSA Panel on Nutrition, Novel Foods and Food Allergens (NDA)

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Following a request from the European Commission, the EFSA Panel on Nutrition, Novel Foods and Food Allergens (NDA) was asked to deliver an opinion on dried yellow mealworm (Tenebrio molitor larva) as a novel food (NF) pursuant to Regulation (EU) 2015/2283. The term yellow mealworm refers to the larval form of the insect species Tenebrio molitor. The NF is the thermally dried yellow mealworm, either as whole dried insect or in the form of powder. The main components of the NF are protein, fat and fibre (chitin). The Panel notes that the levels of contaminants in the NF depend on the occurrence levels of these substances in the insect feed. The Panel notes that there are no safety concerns regarding the stability of the NF if the NF complies with the proposed specification limits during its entire shelf life. The NF has a high protein content, although the true protein levels in the NF are overestimated when using the nitrogen-to-protein conversion factor of 6.25, due to the presence of non-protein nitrogen from chitin. The applicant proposed to use the NF as whole, dried insect in the form of snacks, and as a food ingredient in a number of food products. The target population proposed by the applicant is the general population. The Panel notes that considering the composition of the NF and the proposed conditions of use, the consumption of the NF is not nutritionally disadvantageous. The submitted toxicity studies from the literature did not raise safety concerns. The Panel considers that the consumption of the NF may induce primary sensitisation and allergic reactions to yellow mealworm proteins and may cause allergic reactions in subjects with allergy to crustaceans and dust mites. Additionally, allergens from the feed may end up in the NF. The Panel concludes that the NF is safe under the proposed uses and use levels.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere06343
Number of pages29
JournalEFSA Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 19 Jan 2021

Bibliographical note

Acknowledgments: The Panel wishes to thank the following for the support provided to this scientific output: the former member of the EFSA Novel Foods Working Group Yolanda Sanz for the contribution provided to the development of the opinion until 3 January 2020, Gabriela Precup and Petra Gergelova.


  • Tenebrio molitor larva
  • food safety
  • insect powder
  • novel foods
  • yellow mealworm


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