Insects as food - a superfood?

by Dr. Johanna Weber

The theory that insects are as nutritious as a superfood, low-carb and very healthy [1] is currently circulating in the media. However, there are hardly any scientific sources for this claim.

The literature on the tolerability of insects as food is still relatively sparse, as is the case with Covid vaccines, but both have been approved by the EU [2, 5, 14]. It is undisputed that food safety and food ethics are complex issues [3], which still need to be addressed in the production of edible insects [4]. Insects are often contaminated with microorganisms [5, 10] and carcinogenic mycotoxins, which are always produced in the intestines of insects as metabolic waste products and can lead to growth disorders in humans [2, 6, 7, 8, 9]. Allergies to  Proteins contained in insects such as arginine and kinase are common in humans, and alpha-amylase and troponin, among other substances, can also have an allergenic effect [2, 22]. Estimates of the frequency of such allergies range from 1 to 19 %, with individual reactions [2, 13, 14]. In China, there have already been a significant number of anaphylactic shocks and deaths due to such allergies, and allergic reactions have also been reported in Laos [2, 15, 16, 17]. In addition to various toxic substances [5], insects also contain heavy metals; the concentration here depends on various factors in the insects' environment, such as food and soil quality [10, 11], and in aquatic insects, a study has shown infestation with parasites that are dangerous to humans, such as liver flukes [18]. Bacterial infestation has also been documented [5, 19, 20, 21, 23], whereby the load depends heavily on the production conditions [24]. Insects also contain carbohydrates such as glycogen and chitin, which can absorb heavy metals and whose allergenic potential has so far been little researched [5]. The fats contained in insects can absorb toxic dioxin [5]. 

Insects certainly contain carbohydrates and are therefore not low-carb, but what is much worse is that they have allergenic potential and de facto always contain mycotoxins and, depending on various factors, they can also contain toxins, heavy metals, dioxins, migroorganisms and parasites. The consumption of insects is therefore highly questionable for allergy sufferers, and even if the content of carcinogenic mycotoxins could be minimized using suitable methods, the production conditions would have to be closely monitored in order to eliminate the other problems mentioned. Conclusion: Unfortunately, insects can hardly be considered a superfood at the present time.

But what is much more exciting is that Bicky Nguyen is the founder of the only company that currently has permission to market insects as food in the EU (CricketOne). Nguyen studied in Europe, among other places, and then worked at the Vietnamese Fulbright University, which is funded by the US Department of State [2, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29]. Many of the employees have international contacts, all of which can be found on the university's website [30], such as George Soros' Open Society Foundation [31], the US Air Force and Nike [32], Harvard University [33, 43], the pharmaceutical industry [34], McKinsey and Oxford University [35], Google [36], Boston Consulting [37], Marriott and the US Congress [38], CNBC, Bloomberg, CNN, BBC and McDonald's, as well as the Asia Institute [39, 40], which is close to the Rockefeller family, J. P. Morgan Chase [41], the internationally active Harvard Kennedy School's Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation [42], various US government agencies as well as the  (Microsoft, amazon, Cargill, Bayer, Coke, Google, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, UPS, IBM, ...), the US-ASEAN Business Council Institute [44, 45], the Loreto Foundation [46, 47], also financed by large corporations such as UPS, MSNBC [48], the Asian Development Bank [49], the UN [50], the International Financial Corporation [51, 52], financed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and various other large corporations, a US lobbying organization [53] and, last but not least, large corporations such as Coke, IBM, Wal-Mart and many others. and many more. [54]. The company Intertek, where Nguyen also worked, has contacts with investors such as KFC, Pizza Hut and McKinsey [55].

After considering the environment in which Nguyen (has) operated professionally, one has to ask: Cui bono, who benefits? Is this really a healthy superfood for the consumer, or is it a way to make a lot of money with an EU-wide monopoly, whether it is healthy or not? 


[1] https://www.mimikama.org/insekten-mjam/
[2] https://sciencefiles.org/2023/01/26/gefahren-von-insekten-als-nahrung-ist-die-eu-kommission-darauf-aus-die-bevoelkerung-dauerkrank-zu-machen/
[3] https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/social-sciences/food-production
[4] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S235236461930046X
[5] www.innocua.net/web/download-6285/schl-ter-et-al-2016-molecular-nutrition-amp-food-research.pdf
[6] https://ehp.niehs.nih.gov/doi/full/10.1289/ehp.6954
[7] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0959804912001463
[8] Musundire, Robert, Isaac M. Osuga, Xavier Cheseto, Janet Irungu, and Baldwyn Torto (2016). Aflatoxin contamination detected in nutrient and anti-oxidant rich edible stink bug stored in recycled grain containers." PloS one 11(1).
[9] https://tinyurl.com/2p8n769h

[10] https://ift.onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1541-4337.12385
[11] https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s00128-009-9688-6
[12] https://orbi.uliege.be/bitstream/2268/242235/1/1-s2.0-S0308814618318570-main.pdf
[13] https://orbi.uliege.be/bitstream/2268/242235/1/1-s2.0-S0308814618318570-main.pdf
[14] https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0136458
[15] https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32288225/
[16] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1398-9995.2008.01838.x
[17] https://www.annallergy.org/article/S1081-1206(11)00095-0/fulltext
[18] https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2769220/
[19] https://www.univpm.it/Entra/Engine/RAServeFile.php/f/P005586/allegati_doc/15_-_Garofalo_et_al.%2C_2017.pdf
[20] https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1082013216652994?journalCode=fstc
[21] https://tinyurl.com/3dwjhsx9
[22] https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/mnfr.201200735
[23] https://lirias.kuleuven.be/retrieve/516939
[24] https://lirias.kuleuven.be/retrieve/561060
[25] https://yseali.fulbright.edu.vn/en/faculty/bicky-nguyen/index.html
[26] https://fulbright.edu.vn/origin-story/
[27] https://hivelife.com/cricket-one/
[28] https://www.cricketone.asia/
[29] https://eur-lex.europa.eu/legal-content/DE/TXT/?uri=CELEX:32023R0058&qid=1674214371513
[30] https://fulbright.edu.vn/our-team/
[31] https://fulbright.edu.vn/our-team/leon-botstein/
[32] https://fulbright.edu.vn/our-team/chris-helzer/
[33] https://fulbright.edu.vn/our-team/hoang-thi-mai-huong/
[34] https://fulbright.edu.vn/our-team/cuong-do/
[35] https://fulbright.edu.vn/our-team/christy-le/
[36] https://fulbright.edu.vn/our-team/le-viet-quoc/
[37] https://fulbright.edu.vn/our-team/chris-malone/
[38] https://fulbright.edu.vn/our-team/kathleen-matthews/
[39] https://fulbright.edu.vn/our-team/henry-nguyen/
[40] https://asiasociety.org/about/background-history
[41] https://fulbright.edu.vn/our-team/nga-tran/
[42] https://fulbright.edu.vn/our-team/thomas-vallely/
[43] https://fulbright.edu.vn/our-team/ben-wilkinson/
[44] https://fulbright.edu.vn/our-team/frances-a-zwenig/
[45] https://www.usasean.org/about/members
[46] https://fulbright.edu.vn/our-team/director-of-student-life/
[47] https://loretovietnam.org/about-us/accountability/
[48] https://fulbright.edu.vn/our-team/chris-matthews/
[49] https://fulbright.edu.vn/our-team/edmund-j-malesky/
[50] https://fulbright.edu.vn/our-team/john-sender/
[51] https://fulbright.edu.vn/our-team/michael-rosen/
[52] https://www.ifc.org/wps/wcm/connect/CORP_EXT_Content/IFC_External_Corporate_Site/About+IFC_New/Partnerships/DP+n+F/
[53] https://fulbright.edu.vn/our-team/gary-edward-giss/
[54] https://fulbright.edu.vn/our-team/klyne-smith/
[55] https://www.intertek.com/investors/board/

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8 Responses

  1. I just don't get it, it won't go through my head. Why should farmers preserve grassland again, but keep fewer cows/goats/sheep, which are the only ones who can digest grass at all? Why should I choke down insects (I can't call it eating) that would actually taste much better to chickens, pigs and other animals? I eat chicken or pork instead ...
    Yes, I'm not a vegetarian - I'm a farmer and can't see anything wrong with the natural (and for me logical) food chain.
    ...Its only flaw is almost certainly that it is not suitable as a business model that could be monopolized to maximize profits -
    there are simply too many ... uh, everyone! ;-))

  2. Do these people want to do us good? Proven again and again: NO. Any further argumentation is superfluous.

  3. I have no problem whatsoever with insects as food. It should just be clearly recognizable if a product contains insects. So just put a symbol on the packaging, like this one for "vegan" (I've already seen it on a bottle of mineral water, by the way...), for example a "Maya the Bee" on it and that's it. Then everyone decides for themselves whether they want to buy it.
    The allergy issue is also just a fake problem. There are allergies to all sorts of things, and those affected will already know whether they want to consume them.
    I don't care whether the insects are nutritious or not. I don't worry about that even when I'm eating my usual diet. I'm not a competitive athlete or obese or anything else, nor am I diabetic.
    What can be read about exposure to various chemical agents applies to all mass farming and breeding, including the "mass plant farming" of the sunflowers so beloved by "greens", for example.
    This would simply have to be checked correctly.

    I have a problem with the fact that the EU is quite obviously aiming for re-education, and I don't like that at all. I also really dislike the fact that a company has a monopoly license - that sets alarm bells ringing. Typical haggling, I suppose.

    Apart from that, as I mentioned, there are no concerns on my part. I love eating North Sea crabs, delicious on bread rolls, preferably home-pulled. They're not insects, of course, but crustaceans, but they don't look that different from other crustaceans. I don't know if you could get, for example, migratory locusts on your plate in a similar way, I'm not a cook, but I wouldn't be disgusted.
    I also eat this moldy mite cheese...

    And finally: I don't like being told what to do, especially not by the EU. It's my business when I turn the compost and collect earthworms for my evening meal. Or if I visit a pet store and fishing tackle store and pick up a portion of fly maggots. It's none of the retailer's business whether I want to go fishing with them, feed my frog or eat them myself.

  4. Do we need something like this? When you look at the interest groups and corporations looming in the background, you immediately think of the well-known benefactors. Their propagated beliefs of overpopulation and man-made climate change are supposed to be the justification for various beneficial innovations that make us happy. Many do not believe it, these many are deprived of their basic rights, including the right to physical integrity, with reference to a global emergency and forced to participate. We've seen it before. Will it go on like this forever? It probably won't stop on its own. Only if we are prepared to stand up for our human and civil rights will they be valid - quite simply.

    1. You are absolutely right. However, I have seen my children regularly wear themselves down with chair circle sessions when conflicts arose. Nothing against non-violent conflict resolution, but it is also legitimate to have a different point of view. The children were maltreated with the chair circle until a "consensus" was reached. No, no consensus was reached, the children simply wanted to escape the situation. Now I am noticing more and more often that my son or my daughter, when faced with conflicts that require assertiveness, come up with the sentence "Yes, that's fine" and resign themselves. I have not only made this observation with my children. They have been systematically trained to stand up for something. I always try to encourage them to be more combative. Because progress can only be made through discussion.

  5. Insects should survive a nuclear war relatively well. Could this be another indicator that psychopaths are about to turn the big wheel? This must be prevented.

  6. Woodlice and the like are said to have been on Asian and elite menus for a long time, enjoy your meal if you're not disgusted!
    The fact that the CIA is conducting research in secret laboratories abroad (Urkraine/Georgia) into how insects can be made "hot" and then unleashed on humanity as a weapon should be enough to keep us away from this "superfood"!
    But people's common sense is unfortunately already in short supply today.
    As a dog owner, I used to say to my four-legged friend when I was young: "Eat dachshund or die!"
    You have the choice!

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