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Mealworms are a classic angling bait, but their high protein content makes them more than just a snack for fish. The fresh larvae of the insect have long been consumed in Southeast Asia and, in 2021, the European Commission approved dried yellow mealworm as an edible product.

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Mealworm protein is rich in beneficial enzymes

Protein is the basic element of muscles. Once ingested, the body breaks it down into amino acids that are then transported to repair muscle breakdown.

Milk protein, consisting of 80% casein and 20% whey, has long been considered the benchmark for protein quality. New research has shown that mealworm protein matches this standard and also includes all essential amino acids needed by humans to digest it.

Mealworms offer better protein content than plant-based alternatives

Isolated protein from plants has a smaller amino acid profile than products derived from animals, such as dairy and eggs.

On the other hand, mealworms are a naturally protein-dense source. Freeze-dried larvae contain over 50% content of crude protein converting to around 43% in true terms. What the mealworm lacks in minerals and vitamins, it makes up for in fats and fibers. And it is also scores high potassium and phosphorous.

Mealworm harvesting is more sustainable than traditional methods

Mealworms provide sustainable protein production with a low environmental impact. Cultivation takes as much as 98% less land than livestock, according to one technical estimate, and the larvae reach the ideal size for harvesting (c. 105 mg) within a few months.

Importantly, the mealworm can be fed on low-value products such as potato flour or brewers’ yeast, making production not only cost-effective but also sustainable.

Labeling basics for mealworm food items

In mealworm protein production, labeling is as important as rearing, processing, and pacing. Regulations about consumer information require manufacturers to express mealworm protein contents in percentages.

Labelling must list particulars such as concentrations, allergenics, durability. In the case of packaging smaller than 10 cm, labels may specify only the products present in the food items, but the full details have to be made easily discoverable.

Processing steps involved in mealworm-protein making

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