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SENS Bar, Part 2

As an insect-eating enthusiast, I’m always keen to try new products and to share them with friends. For that reason, I was excited to try the new SENS bars, which are made using cricket flour.

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I received four different flavoured bars in the post: two protein bars and two energy bars. They were professionally packaged and attractive looking and came with a couple of cool stickers.

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Here are some key facts about the bars:

  • The crickets in Sens bars are dried and milled, making them into a flour that is not visible in the finished bar
  • Each protein bar contains about 132 crickets, and each energy bar contains about 55
  • The bars have a shelf life of 9 months and don’t need refrigerating

SENS Energy Bars

Sens energy bar infographic

Dark chocolate and orange

sens dark chocolate orange ingredients

Sense dark chocolate orange nutrition

 Pineapple and coconut

Sens pineapple and coconut ingredients

Sense pineapple and coconut nutrition

 Sens protein bars

Sens Bar infographic

Peanut butter and cinnamon

Sens peanut butter bar ingredients

peanut butter and cinnamon Sens protein bar

 dark chocolate and sesame

Sens Dark Chocolate sesame bar ingredients

Sens dark chocolate sesame bar nutrition
Some pros and cons of cricket bars:

  • They are portable and don’t need to be refrigerated
  • They are easy to share
  • They are recognisable food products, with detailed nutritional information
  • They don’t need cooking or heating
  • Each bar is quite high in calories (204 – 321), so would suit those with active lifestyles, who need an energy or protein boost

The motivation behind Sens is to make insect eating the new normal. They say their products help people to increase their protein intake without adding too much sugar or carbs. The benefit of using insect ingredients is due to their sustainability and cruelty-free farming. Since the bars are high in protein and energy, they are aimed at those who need to snack on-the-go, before or after a workout, or during a hectic day at work.
I asked Sens about their future plans and they said they hope to start selling bars at fitness centres in the future, as well as considering new products, such as bread enriched with cricket flour.

You can find out more about Sens bar and try some yourself by visiting https://www.sensbar.com/en/shop-now A sample pack containing all four flavours will cost £9.99, and is shipped to addresses in the EU free of charge. Individual bars can be purchased from £2.14 per protein bar and £1.70 per energy bar. Sens hope to begin selling bars at fitness centre in the future.

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Eating the new SENS Bar

Earlier this month, I had the pleasure of receiving some samples of the new SENS bars in the post. A SENS spokesperson told me their aim is to make insect eating “the new normal”, so they have created tasty protein and energy bars that use cricket flour as the key ingredient. Rather than eat them all myself, I shared them with a group of friends, who offered their feedback.

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Straight to the tasting!

The energy bars were created as a well-balanced and filling snack, that should demonstrate how tasty cricket products should be. With that in mind, here are our thoughts on tasting them:

Dark chocolate & orange Energy bar (50g/bar with 7.7g protein) 10% cricket flour

Oh so tasty. Personally, this was my favourite bar. The orange has a really strong kick, which is quite refreshing. People said it had a good aftertaste, though it was a bit dry in the mouth. This one is definitely a crowd-pleaser.

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Pineapple & coconut Energy bar (50g/bar with 6.5g protein) 10% cricket flour

I was surprised I liked this one, as I typically don’t like coconut in sweet products! Actually, it was really nice. Some of my friends found it a bit too sweet due to the pineapple, and they preferred the protein bars to the energy bars. This bar had the best consistency of the four; it stuck together well and had a great texture to it.

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The protein bars are made using high quality protein and unprocessed, natural ingredients, with the aim of being low in carbohydrates and not too sweet in taste. They should be good for muscle recovery after workouts.

Peanut butter & cinnamon Protein Bar (60g/bar with 20g protein) 20% cricket flour

This was another of our favourites. The peanut butter and cinnamon combination works really well, without making the bar too sweet. It had a great, almost sticky texture which made it really moreish.

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Dark chocolate & sesame Protein Bar (60g/bar with 20g protein) 20% cricket flour

This was the least sweet of the bars, and the dark chocolate gave it a nice rich flavour. We did find this one a bit dry and crumbly, so 60g in one sitting might be a bit too much for my taste-testers.

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Our conclusions

We really enjoyed tasting the varied flavours of the SENS bars. They were each unique in flavour and texture, showing that cricket flour products can be quite versatile. Some of my guests said that the bars had an aroma that reminded them of a pet store, so perhaps it will take time for some of us to adjust to associating insects with food. I feel the more that people get to experience insect products, the more normalised it becomes.

The majority of my party guests have tried my home-cooked products before and had no hesitation in trying the new SENS bars. Those who were new to the idea had heard how good they tasted, and were keen to finally try them. The overall favourite was the dark chocolate and orange bar, though we liked the texture and consistency of the pineapple and coconut the best.

You can find out more about Sens bar and try some yourself by visiting https://www.sensbar.com/en/shop-now A sample pack containing all four flavours will cost £9.99, and is shipped to addresses in the EU free of charge.

 

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Is it legal to farm insects (for human consumption) in the UK?

I was uncertain for a long time about whether or not it was legal to farm insects for human consumption in the UK. It’s hard to find a yes/no answer to that, so I thought I’d find out for myself. Here’s the short version:

Is it legal to sell insects in the UK for human consumption? Yes, certain species.
Is it legal to farm insects in the UK for human consumption? Yes, for now.
Is it legal to farm insects for animal feed in the UK? No, not for land animals; it is allowed for fish.

I recently got in touch with the FSA (Food Standards Agency), DEFRA (Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) and my local council to find out the specifics of whether or not it is legal or not to farm insects in the UK for human consumption. Here’s a summary of what they told me.

Selling insects for food

We know that insects are allowed to be eaten in the UK, since they’re already in the shops, but are all insects allowed? Do they have to be tested? The general consensus is that it’s fine, as long as they’ve been eaten here to a significant degree before 1997.

FSA said: It is worth noting that insects and other whole animals are currently exempt from the scope of the Novel Food Regulation, Regulation (EC) 258/1997, which covers the safety of new foods and processes. However, this situation is likely to change with future amendments to the Regulation, resulting in insects that are currently marketed as foods in EU Member States requiring a novel food safety assessment unless they have been consumed to a significant degree before 15 May 1997.

Which insects are allowed?

You can find at least a dozen species of insects being sold in the UK. Mealworms, crickets and their kin are largely tolerated. I found a Belgian page which lists 10 species that are agreed and tolerated.

The FSA said: There is nothing in legislation prohibiting the sale/supply of insects for human food as long as they are safe to eat. And that food must not be injurious to health or unfit for human consumption.

You can read a bit more about which countries are allowing edible insects at 4ento.com.

Farming insects for food

The regulation on farming insects for food in the UK is a little confusing. I’m often told that a certified slaughterhouse is required for insect farming, yet there don’t seem to be any official guides on what that might be (unofficially, the insects are cooled into a state of sleep and then frozen). This confusion seems to be due to welfare and safety issues specifically tied to farming for human food; there are already large insect farms in the UK who provide insects both live and dried. We are allowed to feed live insects to birds and reptiles.

I asked: It seems that under EU Regulation (853/2004) meat must be slaughtered in a registered slaughterhouse, but that regulations for animal slaughter apply to vertebrates (1099/2009), so insects are excluded from this regulation.

Does that mean it is legal to breed insects and kill them for human consumption, without the need of a registered slaughterhouse?

The FSA told me that the important things are i) avoiding contamination by using hygiene rules and basic record keeping and ii) have in place HACCP safety procedures (Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points).

I was also advised that I would need to contact the Environmental Health Department (EHD) 28 days before I intend to trade, as they are responsible for making inspections on businesses.

So, essentially, it is allowed. I imagine specific rules and regulations for insect farming will come into place in the coming months, but for now, best diligence is all that is required.

Farming insects for animal feed

In the EU it’s not currently legal to feed insects to animals that will be eaten by humans, in part due to the BSE crisis of the 90’s. It’s believed that regulations will change to allow this at some point this year (2015). Research is ongoing to determine which types of food are safe to feed to feed-insects (e.g. grain, abattoir waste or manure). European regulations changed in recent years to allow us to feed insects to fish that are bred for human consumption.

Bug photo shoot

We had fun on Monday getting some photos of some new bug recipes. Here’s a preview of the photos; more recipes to come soon!

BUffalo Falafel shown with Tzatziki and BUffalo flour

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Buffalo worm trail mix, just season the worms and roast

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mealworm and pork meatballs

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