Do you like the idea of eating bugs, but don’t know where to start or are bugs safe to eat? Check out our simple visual guide to edible insects and scroll down an overview of the latest edible insect food safety research. We suggest one golden rule for edible insect that will keep you safe …
The recent uptick of Western investment in edible insect production systems has sent scrambling worry warts and scientists alike with the question: are bugs safe to eat? The world over was regularly eating insects long before we even believed in germs. It is therefore surprising that so little is known about the safety of edible insects relative other foods. This oversight likely stems from the strong safety record of traditionally eaten bugs. As bug protein moves forward into the realm of Western food regulators, specifics of food safety must be addressed. Edible bug safety concerns generally involve either microbial pathogens or environmental contamination, specifically:
- microbial pathogens
- chemical toxicity
- heavy metals
- bioaccumulation of plant toxins
Though scientific research has addressed some of these concerns, much is yet to be learned, research that will likely be decades in the making. Until a regulatory rubric is in hand, a few common sense conditions for eating insects can be used to mitigate the most sources of concern i.e. environmental contamination in wild caught insects and microbial contamination from improperly stored or processed insects. The simplest way to stay safe:
Eat farm raised insects, grown specifically for human consumption that have been stored properly and cooked well.
I will soon follow up on this topic of “are bugs safe to eat” with tips on edible insect cooking, storing, and processing. In the mean time, most manufactures include this information with their products or on their websites. For a good list of reputable edible insect producers, check out our product reviews.
Links for further research WITH open access: