Can foods with insect-based flours cause allergies? –

Can foods with insect-based flours cause allergies? –
Of Elena Meli

Alarm from allergists: 800,000 people at risk, because those allergic to crustaceans, molluscs or dust mites could have reactions by eating products with cricket flour and other insects

One ingredient of delicious dishes, the other is only now appearing on our tables, but it must be admitted that a shrimp or a cricket are not so different animals in appearance. Nor are they for the various proteins they contain: for this reason, after the go-ahead from the State-Regions Conference for the agreement for the sale in Italy of products based on crickets, larvae, locusts, the Italian Society of Allergy, Asthma and Clinical Immunology ( SIAAIC) calls for caution, emphasizing that 800,000 Italians allergic to shellfish they may be at high risk of reactions, eating products derived from insects.


In China, the United States and also in Europe they have already been registered cases of allergic reactions to products such as cricket flourwith ailments from simple urticaria to anaphylactic shock; Mario DiGioacchinoSIAAIC president, specifies that in most cases the patients had a known allergy to shellfish and after ingesting cricket flour they had a reaction. In fact, similar molecules are present in both crustaceans and crickets, which therefore justify a cross-reaction between the two foods. Even molluscs, insects, dust mites, grasshoppers, mealworms, crabs, beetles, fruit flies are arthropods like crustaceans and crickets, therefore they share many proteins; those identified most often as a cause of cross-reaction are tropomyosin and arginine kinase, more rarely hexamin 1B and myosin light and heavy chains. Furthermore, the possible presence of cross-reactive proteins not yet identified, and in general it is assumed that there is a cross-reactivity between these foods of around 90 percent.

The importance of labels

Who is allergic to crustaceans, molluscs or dust mites he must therefore be especially careful with the new insect-based foods; the institutions also underlined the importance of provide all the necessary information on the label, signaling the presence of insect derivatives even in possible traces so as to protect allergy sufferers, as well as two out of three Italians still very little convinced of eating larvae and crickets. Moreover, as Di Gioacchino points out, the risk of anaphylaxis after ingestion of arthropod meals, especially crickets, in those allergic to crustaceans or mites not common, therefore patients are not aware of the need to avoid the consumption of insects. As these are increasingly promoted as a source of protein worldwide, physicians will need to educate patients about this risk and regulatory agencies will need to consider the need for relevant precautionary labeling to encourage safe, informed consumption.

March 25, 2023 (change March 25, 2023 | 14:11)


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