Houseflies, crickets and silkworms can be safe, nutritious and more environmentally friendly alternatives to chicken, beef or pork, research carried out for the European Commission finds.
Still, they are less likely to be found on European restaurant menus than in animal feed, carefully controlled to prevent the kind of prions, or abnormal proteins, blamed for mad cow disease.
The Commission, the EU executive, is working on revised legislation on novel foods, after a previous proposal failed because of opposition to animal cloning.
It asked the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) to research the safety of eating insects.
In a scientific opinion published on Thursday, EFSA said the use of insects as a source of food and feed potentially had important environmental, economic and food security benefits.
Farming of insects can lead to lower emissions of greenhouse gases and ammonia than cattle or pigs and higher efficiency in converting feed to protein, the report said.