UK – An evaluation conducted by the Food Standards Agency (FSA) has revealed that insects sold in the UK market pose minimal risk to the general public.
The agency subjected seven edible insects that are currently available on the UK market to a risk evaluation that looked at allergens, microbial, and heavy metal contamination.
These products include the black soldier fly, yellow mealworm, house cricket, banded cricket, migratory locust, and smaller mealworm.
Due to a paucity of consumption information on edible insects in the UK, a thorough exposure evaluation was not conducted.
If products are properly labeled, the likelihood of allergic reactions to edible insects is thought to be quite minimal.
Consumer reports of illness typically have mild illnesses with short durations and low severity.
However, the severity of the disease may be significant and result in anaphylactic shock in some persons who have severe allergic reactions to shellfish, particularly crustaceans, and mites.
If such food is labeled, consumers with shellfish allergies are encouraged to limit their contact with it.
A 2021 Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report provided a summary of the numerous food safety concerns that could be connected to the use of edible insects.
The frequency of exposure to harmful microorganisms or heavy metals was predicted by the FSA to be very low.
It is unlikely that eating insects contaminated with germs or heavy metals can cause serious sickness.
However, illnesses brought on by contact with Salmonella and other bacteria can range in severity from asymptomatic to fatal.
Since edible insect products have just recently been available in the UK, there is no data on their microbial contamination.
Evidence from the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) and FSA’s risk profiles revealed that edible insects are very prone to collect heavy metals when fed polluted substrates, especially cadmium and arsenic.
Also dependent on species is accumulation potential.
Estimated risk levels assume that suitable control methods, like heat treatment or labeling, have been used to reduce microbiological and chemical contamination.
Edible insects may pick up toxic compounds through the substrate they feed on or by direct contact with pollutants while being raised.
After harvesting, these compounds can also develop during processing.
By removing these portions, physical risks, such as unusually large or hard elements of the insect’s body, can be controlled.
The FSA stated that, although not addressed in the paper, it was crucial to take into account consumer acceptance, animal welfare, and trade in broader work on regulating edible insects and the impact on food safety.