Is it safe for humans to eat bugs?

In this brief guide, we will discuss the question “is it safe for humans to eat bugs?”. As well, we will discuss what are poison bugs, why are insects as food, what are the bugs the European Commission approved, and other concerns about edible bugs. 

Is it safe for humans to eat bugs?

Whether it is safe for humans to eat bugs will depend on if the bug is edible. If you eat any bug in nature, it may be harmful to you, as there are many poison bugs in the wild. 

What are poison bugs?

Poison bugs are insects that produce protein toxins that can be very dangerous to humans, so it’s not recommended to eat any bugs that you find in nature. To be safe to eat bugs, they need to be approved by federal authorities.   

Why are insects used as food?

As the world population is growing fast, it needs sources with high biological protein alternatives. The produce of insects provides a lot of multiple nutrients in a smaller space when compared to other animal production, being a great choice to help over the famine.

What are the bugs the European Commission approved?

The federal agency European Commission (E approved in February of 2022 the third insect as food. The three insects already approved by the Commission are house cricket (Acheta domesticus), yellow mealworm (Tenebrio molitor larva), and Grasshoppers.

What form of the bugs are allowed by the European Commission?

The European Commission approved the insects as food in different forms, such as frozen, powder, and dried. The edible insects are to be considered as food ingredients or a snack.    

What are edible bugs? 

Edible insects or bugs can be also called insects as foods are many types of insect species produced and prepared for human eating. The insect can serve as an ingredient in products, like burger patties, snacks, pasta, flour, and other options, but also can be served as a whole.

What are the nutrients from edible insects?

Edible insects contain a lot of nutrients with high biological value and can be compared to the nutrients from animals. Edible insects are sources of the greatest protein, fatty amino acids, minerals, and many vitamins. 

What are the differences between the production of edible insects and animals?

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) pointed out that insects have a great food conversion rate. The crickets require six times less feed when compared to cattle, four times less when compared to sheep, and twice less when compared to pigs to produce the equivalent quantity of protein. 

Can edible insects be sustainable?

Yes, it’s sustainable to produce edible insects because they throw out less ammonia and greenhouse gasses when compared to animal farming. Edible insects can also be produced from organic waste. Below you can check more aspects of producing edible insects from FAO.

  • The farming of edible insects will require less water when compared to animal farming;
  • Edible insects  can assure the water requires from diet or substrates;
  • The farming of edible insects uses the most water required for the cleaning process;  
  • About the space used to produce edible insects need two to ten times less land when compared to agriculture to produce 1 kg of insects protein when compared to 1 kg of protein from cattle or pig;
  • When compared to farms of pigs, which produce 10 to 100 times further greenhouse gas per kg of weight when compared to edible insects;
  • The produce of edible insects can be all the year; 
  • Most of the whole body of an insect can be eaten, like 80% for crickets and when compared to cows, you can eat just 40% of their body;
  • As the farming production of edible insects is quite small, you can produce them in rural or urban areas.       

What about the food security of edible insects?

FAO pointed out that different from animals, the edible insects can accumulate contaminants in the growing process, from their diet or materials in contact. As edible insects have a small size, it may be hard to decontaminate them. You can check other concerns below.

  • The farming of edible insects requires to be controlled with hygienic conditions;
  • In nature, insects can serve as vectors for many microorganisms that can be a risk to human and animal health, so the entire farm of edible insects needs to be under control, to ensure safe edible insects;
  • Boiling edible insects for 5 minutes can decrease the food safety risks related to some pathogenic bacterias. 

Where can I buy edible insects?

You can find edible insects in specific stores around the world, but nowadays you will also find many websites selling edible insects online. When buying online, you need to check the origin of the seller to ensure safe edible insects. You can check one website by clicking here.  

Can I make food with edible insects? 

Yes, you can. You will find a diversity of ingredients that contain edible insects and ensure food with high biological value. An example, you can make cake, pies, and bread from the powder of edible insects. If you click here, you will see an example of cricket powder.   

What is a recipe for edible insects?

You will find different recipes for edible insects on the internet. If you click here, you will check a recipe using cricket powder to cook bread. This recipe contains ingredients and directions. 

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we have discussed the question “is it safe for humans to eat bugs?”. As well, we have discussed what are edible bugs, what are poison bugs, why are insects as food, what are the bugs the European Commission approved, and other concerns about edible bugs.

References

https://www.fao.org/edible-insects/en/ Accessed: 05/04/2022

https://www.fao.org/3/cb4094en/cb4094en.pdf Accessed: 05/04/2022

https://ec.europa.eu/food/safety/novel-food/authorisations/approval-insect-novel-food_en Accessed: 05/04/2022

What was missing from this post which could have made it better?

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.