Do not touch these edible insects! Are you allergic?

Do not touch these edible insects! Are you allergic?

I am a great advocate and ambassador of edible insects, which is why seeing their popularity and interest grow in recent years has been very exciting. When I started promoting edible insects, people were not ready to take the plunge. Now things are different, I have to brake them before their first bite - because it turns out that one can be allergic to insects. What a disaster!

Food allergies are common, and are becoming more and more common. The reactions and triggers of these allergies are not fully understood, but they present in all cases very different characters. Some of these allergies occur during childhood and adolescence; While others only manifest themselves as adults. Some allergies last a lifetime, others fade and eventually disappear.

FAO has identified more than 170 foods that can trigger allergic reactions. They expressed the following opinion: "Many food allergies can be attributed to a small group of 8 foods or food groups: cow's milk, eggs, fish, crustaceans, peanuts, soybeans, nuts and corn. "

In accordance with this observation, the Codex Alimentarius Commission decided that these ingredients should be mentioned and put forward on the nutritional information on the packaging. But what about edible insects?

Crustaceans are very close to insects: this will make the alarm sound for some people.
Allergies to crustaceans and seafood are very common and can be severe. These two animals belong to the class of "arthropods" - characterized by an exoskeleton and a segmented body. In this group are also spiders, scorpions, centipedes and centipedes. (I heard already from the raspers "Spiders are not insects!"

Studies have shown that mites and crustaceans also share common allergens. Chitin is one of them - an element that makes up these crunchy carapaces. In summary: If you are allergic to crustaceans and seafood, you can potentially be also allergic to edible insects.

There is no clear legislation around the sale of edible insects at the moment, so it is a "gray zone" in which we have to trust companies about the various risks inherent in the consumption of insects. This will evolve in the future, but at the present stage more research is needed. In fact, it is the same conclusion that comes almost at the end of every study on edible insects. But for now, what do the current studies say? First good news: there is no epidemic allergic to edible insects!

Most of the literature dealing with insect allergies only talks about skin or respiratory reactions. Severe allergic reactions have been attributed to contact with mites, cockroaches or aerial insect feces (this is a problem for infested buildings and poorly ventilated). Flour worms have caused allergic reactions amongst People working in the production of fishing bait, or in bakeries.

Now, let's attack the piece: what happens when someone eats edible insects? This study compared the Provençal cricket (Gryllus bimaculatus) with a kind of shrimp (Macrobrachium lanchesteri), and found the same allergens in both cases. The cricket showed one more; A protein that is present in other crustaceans - and in cockroaches! Simply: Many cross reactions between edible insects and shellfish and seafood ...

Is the way that edible insects are prepared affect their allergic level? Yes, in agreement with another study, which studied the differences between edible insects, boiled, roasted or lyophilized moths and crustaceans. Flour worms have the same risks for people with allergies to crustaceans - and cooking does not change anything, despite the fact that it tends to decrease the level of allergens.

The allergy specialist, Professor Cristoforo Incorvaia recommends people with allergies to wasp or bee venom not to consume - this also applies to honey.

Incorvaia says, "there's nothing to scare" about edible insect allergy; It mainly concerns people allergic to molluscs, crustaceans, seafood, moths, snails or insect venoms. He adds that the rest of the public can venture into the "world of entomophagy".

Back to square one: Why do I take so many precautions before serving edible insects? Well, you always remember your first experience of insect tasting, so it's best to remember a good time with delicious insects - and a great discussion with me! - rather than staying in a hospital ...

Now that the media, the public and the scientific body are increasingly interested in this emerging subject, a serious allergic incident would cause a lot of suffering: both for the allergic person and for the future of edible insects - "killing the larva In the egg "so to speak. The right information at the right time will solve many problems.
There is no clear legislation around the sale of edible insects at the moment, so it is a "gray zone" in which we have to trust companies about the various risks inherent in the consumption of insects. This will evolve in the future, but at the present stage more research is needed. In fact, it is the same conclusion that comes almost at the end of every study on edible insects. But for now, what do the current studies say? First good news: there is no epidemic allergic to edible insects!

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