DOHA: Qatar has reaffirmed a religious ban on consuming insects in a move that comes after the European Union added new products to its list of approved foods.
Insect products do not meet “the requirements of halal food technical regulations,” Qatar’s health ministry said in a statement late Thursday.
Gulf Cooperation Council regulations “and the religious opinion of the competent authorities” bans “the consumption of insects, or protein and supplements extracted from them,” it added.
The announcement follows “some countries’ decision to approve the use of insects in food production,” Qatar said.
It did not identify the countries, but the EU commission last month approved the larvae of the lesser mealworm -- a species of beetle -- and a product containing the house cricket for use in food.
Insects have long been a source of protein in communities around the world but consumption has spread as pressure grows to find alternatives to meat and other foods associated with high levels of greenhouse gases.
The EU has now approved four insects as “novel food”.
All products containing insects must be clearly labelled.
Academics say there is no clear ruling in Islamic law on whether insects can be eaten.
Most say locusts are halal, or allowed, as they are mentioned in the Quran.
But many Islamic law scholars reject other insects as they are considered unclean.
Qatar said that food’s compliance with halal rules was checked by “Islamic bodies accredited by the ministry and through its international-accredited laboratories” that determine the source of protein contained in food products.
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