The authorities moved in after La Sidreria restaurant created its €30 “crunch” menu, featuring a selection of insect-based recipes, Corriere della Sera reported on Tuesday.
The planned dishes included meatballs with black rice and worms, bread with cheese and crickets, and salad with apple and mixed insects.
The owner of the top-rated restaurant created the new menu on the basis that “insects are the food of the future”, citing research by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
Elsewhere in Europe, food enthusiasts have successfully served up insects. A chef at a restaurant on the French Riviera began cooking with home-grown insects last year, while in 2011 a foodie in Berlin started selling insect snacks.
FAO has been working on the topic since 2003 and says edible insects – of which there are 1,900 species – “contain high quality protein, vitamins and amino acids for humans.”
Under EU regulation selling insects to citizens is not banned, but countries have the right to seize products if they believe citizens’ health could be at risk.
As a result the local health authority (ASL) in Milan was able to take away 50 kilos of insects, including bees, wasps, flour larvae, silkworms and scorpions.
Explaining their decision, ASL vets told the newspaper the insects could be damaging to public health.
“As with other animal foodstuffs, insects can be contaminated by microorganisms, parasites, chemical residues, notwithstanding the possibility of allergic reactions,” they were quoted as saying.
The insects were believed to have been bought from a farm in northern Italy, which is legally only allowed to sell the insects as animal feed, Corriere said.
When contacted by The Local, the restaurant owner was not immediately available to comment on the seizures.