Swiss offer insect burgers

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GENEVA — Swallow deeply, pinch the nose and repeat the mantra: “Tastes like beef, tastes likes beef.” Then bite into the burger of rice, chopped vegetables, spices and mealworm larvae.

The Swiss supermarket chain Coop, to a bit of domestic hoopla, has begun selling burgers and balls made from insects. It’s being billed as a legal first in Europe, a continent more accustomed to steak, sausage, poultry and fish as a source of protein.

The goal is to convince leery consumers to try a nutritious, if unusual food that “preserves the planet’s resources,” Coop says.

About one-third of the burger is mealworm larvae. A burger weighing 100 grams (3.5 ounces) has about 10 grams of protein in it — about the same amount found in a child’s-size beef burger.

For now, only seven of Coop’s nearly 2,500 stores in Switzerland are serving up the critters concocted by the Zurich-based food startup Essento. The chain says the insect products have been flying off shelves during their limited rollout in the Alpine nation and a broader launch is planned by year’s end. — AP

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