Insect flour allergy: symptoms, causes and remedies

Insect flour allergy: symptoms, causes and remedies


Insect flour – especially cricket – is used for the production of bread , pasta , pizza , crackers, biscuits. On the subject, in addition to the dispute over whether to eat them yes or no, the problem of the possible risks, still little known, relating to their consumption also emerges, with eyes focused especially on allergies and any disturbances that the new food could cause. From the first researches and analyzes on the subject it has emerged that those who are allergic to prawns and crustaceans , but also to molluscshe mites, or about 800,000 people in Italy, can also be allergic to insect -based foods by cross-reaction .

Insect flour allergic reaction: symptoms

  • itching
  • swelling
  • vomit
  • diarrhea
  • more serious cases: anaphylactic shock .

Cricket flour allergy

The sale of flours based on crickets, locusts, larvae and mealworms has already passed on the table of the European Commission . On this issue, the Minister of Agriculture and Food Sovereignty,  Francesco Lollobrigida, declared to the press as follows: «We are making a choice to protect citizens. The label must not condition but inform. It’s not the Nutriscore. If citizens want to eat cricket or maggot flour, they can do so, but it must be a conscious choice. On the label it will be indicated how much cricket flour there is, what risk there will be of allergies because a lot has yet to be tested.”

Causes insect flour allergy

The majority of food allergies associated with the consumption of insects, the specialists explain, are caused by two proteins : tropomyosin and arginine kinase, both present in insects, which stimulate in individuals sensitive to these proteins, and therefore allergic, the production of Immunoglobulin E , antibodies associated with allergic reactions .

After  the authorization for sale in the European Union , insect-based foods will be found not only in restaurants , but also on the shelves of large-scale retailers. The risk is that of not having enough information on the risks related to their consumption and any adverse reactions. What has been demonstrated is that insect-based flours and foods, especially crickets, are sources of protein and contain little fat and sugar , however this does not mean that these foods are to be considered completely harmless. Cases of allergies have already been registered in China, the United States and in some cases in Europe.

Most food allergies associated with insect consumption, as evidenced by specialists, derive from two proteins that stimulate the production of antibodies associated with allergic reactions in susceptible individuals. The enemy proteins are recognized and trigger the reactions responsible for the characteristic symptoms of food allergies such as; itching and swelling, nausea , vomiting, diarrhea and, in severe cases, anaphylactic shock. Insect food allergies can also occur as a result of an allergy to other foods, due to cross-reactivity.

In this regard, important recommendations emerge for those subjects who already have allergies and in particular to foods such as shrimps and shellfish, but also to dust, even if hypersensitivity to insects is less frequent in those allergic to dust mites .

Here’s how to recognize insect bites.

Cricket flour: what is it?

Some food industries are focusing on the production of  insect-based foods . Among the various species, one in particular seems to lend itself considerably to breeding : the   ground  cricket (genus Acheta ).

This animal seems to boast noteworthy nutritional characteristics; without considering that the relationship between breeding costs, timing and yield is unmatched. The company that first developed a cricket-based product for human consumption is ” Tiny Farms “, based in California. With a considerable economic investment, he has put on the market a real  insect-based animal  flour : cricket  flour / powder .

With a typically “dusty” consistency, cricket flour is usually dark brown in colour , contains  very little  fat and a protein concentration of  60-70%  of the total mass and has a  high  biological value . Crickets are very rich in minerals  and  vitamins , such as  calcium , potassium ,  iron  and  vitamin B12  ( cobalamin ), vitamin B2 , etc.; in conclusion, they would seem to be a real panacea for bone growth  , for the prevention ofanemia.

Individuals most at risk

  • Shrimp
  • Shellfish
  • Clams
  • Dust mites

Insect food allergies can also occur as a result of an allergy to other foods, due to cross-reactivity. In particular, people who already have other allergies to shrimp and shellfish should be careful, because in these cases, “the cross-reactivity of IgE to tropomyosin has also been demonstrated in other species of edible insects also used for the production of flour.



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