Eat ze bugs: Insects served to unwitting Swedish schoolchildren

Published 19 March 2024
- By Editorial Staff
Not all students like the idea of eating insects.

A school in Södertälje, Sweden, serves food made from caterpillars without the pupils realising what they are eating. When the students find out what is in the food, some of them are shocked and refuse to eat the “taco meat”.

During the Cold War, Sweden had large stocks of food to deal with crises, which have now been eliminated. The government recently unveiled a series of proposals to tackle the problem, including advising people to always have at least a week’s worth of food at home. In addition, schools and old people’s homes, among others, will be able to provide food, which means up to three million meals a day.

Secondary schools are testing new recipes for use in times of crisis or war. At one lunch, tacos are served with insects, which the students seem to be unaware of. The students are then told that insects are climate-friendly, healthy, and have lived a good life. Student Maria Alejandra is asked if the food is good before she knows what she is eating.

– It’s delicious, she tells taxpayer-funded SVT.

Allergic reactions

When she finds out that it contains insects, she is shocked.

– Insects!? she exclaims, and then says she doesn’t want to eat any more of the food.

Because of the risk of cross-allergies, especially for people with shellfish allergies, products must be labelled to indicate that the insect species may cause an allergic reaction, according to the Swedish National Food Agency (Livsmedelsverket). The Swedish Asthma and Allergy Association (Astma- och Allergiförbundet) has also urged companies to be careful with labelling, as eating insects can be dangerous for some allergy sufferers.

Insects are so-called novel foods, meaning that they were not widely consumed in the EU before 15 May 1997. There are currently four insect species authorised for use in food production in the EU.