Eating insects: An alternative to conventional meat?


Eating insects

Mealworms: special source of protein for athletes

The frequently used mealworm has a special added value, especially for athletes. This is because when mealworms are freeze-dried, the protein content increases from 18.7 percent to 50.9 percent.

By comparison, beef has 22.3 percent, pork and chicken 22.8 percent. For this reason, there are already some mealworm-based protein bars and powders for athletes.

Nevertheless, few athletes need this extra portion of protein in the form of bars and co.

Where can I try edible insects?

Edible insects are now also finding their way onto the (Internet) market and are offered in a wide variety of forms: They are available whole as a snack (e.g., deep-fried spiced grasshoppers), in chocolate or honey, ground as insect flour (e.g., as an ingredient for insect noodles), and as protein bars and powders for athletes.

In many parts, insect burgers with Buffalo worms are also sold through a supermarket chain. And there are also already the first restaurants where guests can try buffalo worms or grasshoppers.

How safe is it to eat insects?

Insects as food are still relatively new in our country. For this reason, there is still a lack of concrete regulations on this in the responsible food hygiene ordinance. For example, there are no clear requirements for approval and identity labeling for insect-producing and processing companies.

Here, there is a guideline for farmed insects as food. This specifies, for example, that farmed insects may only be placed on the market if they are subjected to heat treatment or treatment with other methods such as high-pressure treatment after killing. This is to ensure that all germs are killed.

Eating insects

Where do edible insects come from?

Edible insects offered in the German food trade come exclusively from controlled breeding. Consumers therefore do not have to fear the use of wild-caught grasshoppers from Africa, where they are sometimes a plague and are available in abundance. Such insects would not meet the hygiene regulations and legal requirements regarding food safety that apply here. The producers are responsible for ensuring that these principles are observed.

Insect farms now exist in many countries, for example in the Netherlands, Spain, but also in Germany. However, the origin of the insects does not have to be marked on the product.

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What are edible insects fed with?

For edible insects, there are as yet no specific regulations governing the requirements for their feed. The Feed Hygiene Regulation therefore applies. This regulates criteria for feed produced for feeding food-producing animals. According to this, for example, no food waste may be fed, only additives approved for animal feed may be used, and certain microbiological specifications must be met.

Where should insects that consumers eat come from?

Only eat insects that have been farmed for human consumption. You should not eat insects that you have collected yourself. These are wild animals that can also feed on waste or be infested with parasites. In addition, you should also refrain from doing so in light of insect mortality.


We also advise against eating insects from pet stores or fishing tackle stores because of the lack of hygienic safety – even if they are much cheaper. Also, do not get involved in experiments with home-bred insects. The home breeding stations offered in the trade are used to obtain animal feed and the insects thus obtained are not suitable for human consumption.

Eating insects – beware of allergies!

Allergy sufferers should be careful when eating insects. Because those who are allergic to crustaceans or house dust mites can also have such a reaction to insects. The participants in the forsa survey did not spontaneously attribute an increased risk of allergic reactions to insects. Therefore, not only to protect allergy sufferers, foods containing insects must be clearly recognizable and labeled as such. Fancy names in the list of ingredients are not enough. Our market check has shown that there are gaps in the labeling of possible allergens on products containing insects.

These allergies can be caused by chitin or the muscle protein tropomyosin. Allergic reactions to the insects’ feed, such as soy or wheat, can also be problematic. According to the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations), however, the risk of allergic reactions to insects is rather low.

Is eating insects good for you?

There is no one definitive answer to this question as the effects of eating insects vary depending on the individual. Some people may find eating insects helpful in providing them with the nutrients they need, while others may not find them enjoyable or healthy. Ultimately, it is up to the individual to decide whether or not they would like to eat insects.

What insects do humans eat?

There are many different insects that humans eat. The most common are beetles, caterpillars, bees, wasps, ants, and grasshoppers.

Is it safe to eat insects?

There is no one definitive answer to this question as it depends on the type of insect consumed. Some insects are safe to eat, while others may pose a health risk. In general, insects that are safe to eat are those that are high in protein and low in fat. They also need to be cooked properly to kill any harmful bacteria. Some edible insects include crickets, grasshoppers, and mealworms. However, there are some insects that can contain harmful toxins. These insects should be avoided, especially if they are not cooked properly. Some of these harmful insects include bees, wasps, and scorpions.

What happens if you eat insects?

There are many potential benefits to eating insects, as they are a high-quality source of protein, healthy fats, and essential minerals. Insects are also low in contaminants and cholesterol, making them a healthy and sustainable option for food.