By Allergen Bureau

Are insects safe to eat?

As focus on insects as a food source intensifies, researchers from the James Cook University are working with the Australian Government’s National Measurement Institute (NMI) to identify insect proteins that may be potential allergens. This information is being used to develop more accurate allergy test kits than those currently being used.

Despite little being known about potential allergens in alternative food proteins, many products already on the market contain ingredients derived from insects such as crickets, black soldier flies, and mealworms.

While still in concept phase, initial data from the latest studies suggests that people who are allergic to house dust mite allergens may also react to the proteins in some insects. This may mean those with a house dust mite allergy who eat a food product containing certain insect proteins could experience an allergic reaction.

About 30 per cent of the world’s population has allergies to the house dust mite and this prevalence is increasing, making this research important.

Another allergy cross-reaction has been found between proteins present in crickets and those in shellfish. According to a media report on the JCU website, these findings will be published later this year.

For the full media release, visit the James Cook University website.