Can you eat squid ink?

In this article, we will answer the question “Can you eat squid ink?” and discuss what is the composition of squid ink. Many recipes across the globe call for octopus or squid ink.

Can you eat squid ink?

Yes, you can eat squid ink. Mediterranean and Japanese cuisines use a lot of squid ink. Based on current research, it is safe to ingest the ink made from Cephalopods, including squid and octopuses.

The ink from squid is not poisonous and has been used in some dishes and food namely rice black, in a sauce baby squid ink, ink soup with pork and squid in addition ink processed food as a dye (3).

Is squid ink safe to eat?

Yes, squid ink is safe to eat. The composition of squid ink does not include any harmful compound to human health. In addition, squid ink has antioxidant properties.

In fact, squid ink can be used as a substitute for synthetic colorants in food products. Synthetic colors may lead to severe health problems such as mutations, cancers, reduced hemoglobin concentrations, and allergic reactions (8). 

Natural extracts of plants and animals are gaining importance to be used in food in the place of synthetic ones, due to its low allergenicity. In addition, some natural pigments provide additional health benefits.  

However, squid ink may cause some symptoms in shellfish allergy sufferers, however, they are quite minimal. To be safe, avoid eating anything that includes squid ink if you are allergic to shellfish (6).

What is the composition of Squid Ink?

In the composition of squid ink are included melanin, enzymes, cadmium, lead, copper, and glutamine.

The composition of squid ink is, according to studies, moisture, protein, fat, ash, and carbohydrates by about 66.12, 18.71, 3.33, 5.24 and 10.58%, respectively. Analysis of minerals indicated that squid ink contained Fe, Zn, Ca, P, K, Mg, Mn, and Na. 

Are there any health benefits by eating Squid Ink?

There are health benefits by eating squid ink due to its antioxidant property. Squid ink has a high antioxidant property. The antioxidant activity of squid ink can be attributed to the presence of polyphenols and flavonoids. The antioxidant activity of squid ink was 91.66% measured by the DPPH method (2).

Background research has shown that squid ink possesses a wide range of biological roles. It is able to elevate immunological competence to kill cancer cells , exerting anti-tumour effects, but it also has the property to elevate the number of leukocytes, has anti-retrovirus and anti-bacterial properties (7).

A study also showed that squid ink has the ability to scavenge free radicals with high efficiency, which indicates that squid ink has excellent properties as an antioxidant. By measuring the ability of squid ink on the toxicity of a human tumor cell line, it is clear that it is able to produce a lethal effect on cancer cells. It also has a great ability to inhibit many pathogenic microbes (2).

Antioxidants are substances produced to combat free radicals, which are dangerous chemicals. If the levels of these molecules become too high, substantial cellular damage may occur, increasing one’s risk of cancer, sickness, and diabetes. Antioxidants, particularly the polyphenolic forms, may help lower the incidence of disease and have anti-aging properties.

What are the foods containing ink from a Cephalopod?

Some foods containing ink from Cephalopods are arroz negro (black rice), txipirones en su tinta (baby squid in ink sauce), ikasumi jiru (ink soup with pork and squid) and Cavianne (an imitation caviar). Processed ink is used as a food coloring (4). 

Cephalopod ink has been used in various ways in the food industry. Most common is its use as a food flavoring, used worldwide. Most commercially-sold squid ink is actually cuttlefish ink, because of its superior flavor. 

Due to its antimicrobial properties, cuttlefish ink is also used to cure and, thus, extend the shelf life of cuttlefish meat. Japan’s black burgers have squid ink as the primary flavoring (5).

Other FAQs about Squid that you may be interested in.

Can you eat giant squid?


In this article, we answered the question “Can you eat squid ink?” and we discussed what is its benefits?


(1) Sonu, Sunee C. Squid Supply, Demand, And Market Of Japan. 2018. US National Marine Fisheries Service.

(2) Riyad, Youssef Moustafa, Ayat Ebrahim Rizk, and Nesrin Saad Mohammed. Active components of squid ink and food applications. Egypt J Food Sci, 2020, 48, 123-133.

(4) Lestari, Rina, et al. Addition of squid ink (Loligo vulgaris Lamarck, 1798) on tortilla chips to favorite levels. World News Nat Sci, 2019, 25, 155-167.

(5) Derby, Charles D. Cephalopod ink: production, chemistry, functions and applications. Marine drugs, 2014, 12, 2700-2730. 

(6) Vriesekoop, Frank. Beer and allergens. Beverages, 2021, 7, 79.

(7) Zhong, Jie-Ping, et al. Protective Effects of Squid Ink Extract Towards Hemopoietic Injuries Induced by Cyclophosphamine. Mar. Drugs, 2009, 7, 9-18.

(8) Malabadi, Ravindra B., K. P. Kolkar, and R. K. Chalannavar. Plant Natural Pigment Colorants-Health Benefits: Toxicity of Synthetic or Artificial Food Colorants. Int J Innov Scient Res Rev, 2022, 4, 3418-3429.