Food & Drink

Mealworm Burger on the Menu in Germany

With millions more hungry mouths around the world, can eating creepy crawlies offer a solution? Meet the Mehlwurmburger.

For over a century, Frankfurt’s Bergiusschule has taught middle school graduates to cook in some of Frankfurt’s leading hotels and restaurants. Students of the School of Quality Management and Food Technology at the Bergiusschule recently presented their final papers and results of their project work, with two graduates creating something a little bit unexpected: the “Mehlwurmburger” or mealworm burger.

According to Hessenschau, The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) seemingly gave the students the initial idea, which is exploring how to expand the use of insects as food and feed, particularly in the Western world, and to lay the foundation for an edible insect industry by reviewing the science and identifying the obstacles to its progress. Students Maximilian Busse and Daniel Terweiden who developed the burger as part of their project work commented, “The protein content of mealworms and other insects is particularly high and the production much more environmentally friendly than meat. Despite the fact that our burgers are made of insects, this is not recognizable to the end user”.

mealworm burger ingredients

The main ingredient of the “Mehlwurmburger”- mealworms or flourworms. Lecker!

This aspect was particularly important for the two students as part of their product development. After all, we eat with our eyes first. “In Europe, unlike many Asian and South American countries, we are not yet ready to exchange the food on our plates with beetles, grasshoppers or caterpillars,” commented their teacher, Dr. Frank Krause. Together with two colleagues, he supervised the work of the two-year students at the Bergiusschule.

What’s inside each Mehlwurmburger? The Burger Patty consists mainly of around 80 mealworm larvae in addition to flour, various spices, ginger, onions, garlic and lemon.

What’s the benefit? According to Maximilian Busse, 15,000 litres of water is required to produce one kilogram of beef while it takes just one litre to produce one kilogram of mealworms. This is also the view of the FAO which believes that insects could contribute to the global food security.

How’s it made?

mealworm burger patty

Take a minimum of 80 mealworm larvae / Image: hessenschau.de

mealworm burger preparation ingredients

Blend  with flour and other ingredients / Image: hessenschau.de

mealworm burger patties

Form the mix into traditional burger shapes / Image: hessenschau.de

mealworm burger frying

Looks just like the real thing? Image: hessenschau.de

mealworm burger garnish

Add a little garnish. Almost there… / Image: hessenschau.de

finished mealworm burger

The finished article! / Image: hessenschau.de

Watch the full video here.

Researchers from Wageningen University in the Netherlands recently found that growing mealworms (or flourworms as they are sometimes known) released less greenhouse gases than producing cow milk, chicken, pork and beef. They also discovered that growing mealworms takes up only about 10 percent of the land used for production of beef, 30 percent of the land used for pork and 40 percent of the land needed for chickens to generate similar amounts of protein. The researchers noted that optimizing mealworm growth might lead to even more land savings.

Coop, one of Switzerland’s largest wholesale retailers, will start selling “burgers” and “meatballs” — both primarily made from mealworm larvae —at select grocery locations from May 2017. Packages of the insect burgers and meatballs will sit in the refrigerated meat section. The retailer is partnering with Essento, a Swiss startup that makes food from insects, Switzerland’s The Local reports.

Until recently, Switzerland’s food and safety office mandated that retailers aiming to sell products that contain insects get a special permit. But in December 2016, the office announced that anything can be sold as long as it respects normal food safety regulations.

mehlwurm mealworm burger

Essento’s burger, made from mealworm larvae, that will be sold at select Coop locations in Switzerland / Image: Coop

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