Edible insect suppliers will have to obtain novel foods authorisation to keep their products on the market, under new rules proposed by the FSA.

A public consultation from the agency will look at how to regulate the category along similar lines to the CBD market.

Products launched in the UK or EU before 2018 will be allowed to remain on sale while suppliers apply for authorisation, as well as any lines that were part of a novel foods application in the EU by 1 January 2019.

“Edible insect products will need to pass through the full authorisation process in Great Britain to remain on the market,” said FSA policy director Rebecca Sudworth.

“We encourage businesses to talk to us about getting their applications in and the support we can provide through the process.”

The FSA’s announcement follows confusion over the rules affecting edible insects during the UK’s exit form the EU.

The agency said a letter it issued in August 2021 claiming transitional measures had ended on 2 January 2020 was incorrect, and has confirmed these provisions are still in effect.

Suppliers wanting their edible insects to stay on the market will have to apply to the FSA or Food Standards Scotland before 31 December 2023.

The novel foods process has already been applied to the CBD category, with many suppliers criticising the FSA for omitting certain products from its public list of tradeable lines, some due to clerical errors.

Nonetheless, UK Edible Insect Association MD Nick Rousseau said: “The support of the FSA will make a huge difference to our ability to prove ourselves in the market.

“Research from our members’ extensive trials and user testing show that edible insect products, when professionally farmed and manufactured, offer the environmentally-concerned consumer nutritious, tasty, and safe food products that can meet a significant proportion of their protein needs.”

The FSA said its general risk assessment for the category has found that the safety risks are low so long appropriate hygiene and other measures are in place.

However, agency surveys from January showed that only a quarter of British consumers would try edible insects, with only half perceiving them as safe to eat.

Two-thirds of those unwilling to eat insects said that nothing could persuade them to try the category, while 13% said they would if it was safe to eat and 11% if the product looked appetising.