Eating edible insects: how safe?

Grilled cicada with wild mint, Thai-style crickets, crepe soufflé with weaver ants, mashed giant water bugs, skewers of crickets or grasshoppers… edible insects, real protein concentrates, invite themselves today as an aperitif or in the gourmet dishes of an ever-increasing number of French people.

Eating edible insects — a practice also known as entomophagy — remains all the same still anecdotal in France and in Europe. While this has been a real way of life for 2.5 billion people around the world for millennia. And this mainly in the countries of Asia, Africa or Latin America.

Whether you are tempted by entomophagy or you are already a convinced follower, know that the consumption of insects requires certain vigilance. And that it is strongly discouraged to go hunting for locusts in your garden, in order to eat them!

Benefits of edible insects.Precautions to take. This is what we invite you to discover without further delay.

Insecte apero et insecte grillé
Fried insect, Thailand, Thai food


The benefits provided by organic edible insects

Recognized by the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), the benefits provided by organic edible insects extend on several levels, notably :

  • Nutritional: Packed with protein, these little animals can replace meat, and are also sources of excellent vitamins and amino acids. Pound for pound, their nutritional qualities equal or exceed those of meat.
  • Economical: they are inexpensive to produce and have a high feed conversion rate. On average, 2 kg of food (plants, leaves, flowers, vegetables, lettuce, seeds, etc.) produces 1 kg of insects, while 8 kg of food is needed to gain 1 kg of meat mass in a bovine.
  • Environmental: Organic insect farming generates very little greenhouse gas and takes up little space.

Eating insects: the risks involved

You should know that, despite its many advantages, entomophagy still presents some risks:

  • Allergy: Eating insects is strongly discouraged for those allergic to shellfish and/or dust mites, as these small, cold-blooded animals contain the same allergens as shellfish and dust mites.
  • Poisoning: this may be due to toxic defensive or repellent substances secreted by insects; the inedible nature of the insect in question; the dangerousness of it due to its diet (toxic plants, drugs, etc.) or its contamination by pesticides, pollutants or heavy metals.
  • Microbial dangers: the breeding and handling of organic insects must comply with strict hygiene rules. Under no circumstances should they come into direct contact with insects outside the breeding farms. The risks of zoonosis (transmission of a disease from an animal to humans), although theoretically low, remain possible.
  • Antinutritional Factors: Insects may contain compounds (phytic acid, tannins, etc.) that reduce the absorption of certain nutrients in humans.

Good to know: It is not recommended for pregnant women to eat insects during their pregnancy.

Insecte apero et insecte grillé
Fried insects (wood worm insect) crispy served in bowl with lime, selective focus

Entomophagy: precautions to take

Ensure product quality

Before any consumption, make sure you only buy products whose origin and quality are known and recognized, so as not to fall prey to unscrupulous sellers.

Distributors must in fact obtain supplies only from reliable producers, who can guarantee optimal quality as well as flawless traceability of their products. products. These must be checked by European laboratories, in order to comply with the standards in force in Europe and France.

It should be noted that the rearing conditions, processing, conservation and transport of insect Edible notes affect the quality and safety of these.

Insect food must be organic

It is essential, before any consumption, to ensure the nature and quality of the food given to the insects you want to eat. This food (plants, leaves, flowers, lettuce, vegetables, fruits or seeds) must be organic.

It is good to know that some growers raise their insects on manure or kitchen scraps. Practices prohibited by European regulations for reasons of health precaution.

Be sure to only buy from producers and distributors who feed their insects organically.

Insecte comestible : Le Charançon
Sago beetle or worm palm weevil red motion in hand (Rhynchophorus ferrugineus) Popular food larva Southern Thailand

Are edible insects caught in your garden reliable?

Do you have a large garden or do you live near a forest? Do your kids love to chase crickets and other small animals, and would you like to fry a few of them?

It is true that in many countries, these small protein concentrates (butterfly caterpillars, mealworms, ant eggs, giant water bugs, etc.) are taken from their natural environment, without consumers being worried about their origin or their health qualities.

In Europe, the food hygiene rules are strict, and for good reason! The breeding of insects is subject to rigorous and regular checks by the health authorities.

The small animals in your garden can be contaminated by parasites, pesticides and other types of pollution, we recommend that you refrain from eating them.

In any case, it is strongly advised to obtain supplies only from reliable sellers who can guarantee the healthiness and harmlessness of their products.

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