by Marion Nestle
May 7 2021

Weekend reading: Edible insects

If you are interested in edible insects—and who is not—this fabulous FAO report examines the safety implications of their farming and production.

As explained in the executive summary:

Until recently edible insects have been collected mainly from the wild but farming insects for human as well as animal consumption is now on the rise. Their high fecundity, high feed conversion efficiency, and rapid growth rates make insects viable and attractive candidates for farming. In addition, they can be reared in small, modular spaces, making it feasible to raise them in rural as well as urban farm settings.

After reviewing the environmental and nutritional benefits of insect production, the report continues:

However, the benefits of this emerging food source must be weighed against all possible challenges: for instance, any food safety issues that could pose health threats to consumers….This publication covers some of the major food safety hazards that should be considered, including biological agents (bacterial, viral, fungal, parasitic) as well as chemical contaminants (pesticides, toxic metals, flame retardants)….
concerns. Food safety risks can be higher when insects are harvested from the wild and consumed raw.

The moral: cook your insects!