How bad to eat bugs in food?

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In summary: I prefer my locusts alive.In summary, the author found a bug in a hot pot and began to think about the potential consequences of eating bugs. She found articles on edible insects and read that they are nutritious and good for the environment. She recalled eating bugs including one instance when she inhaled them and one when she smashed them on her teeth. She does not think hand sanitizer residue is a significant risk. She recommends screening for risks with a cursory evaluation and filtering air if you have known respiratory issues. The author recommends eating locusts live if possible.
  • #1
One day I cooked and found a tiny bug in the hot pot, I really did not know how it fell into it and I know that it was simply a matter of luck to find it, then I start to realize that I may have
eaten many bugs over the years unknowingly. Bottom line, how bad would they be?
Biology news on
  • #3
kenny1999 said:
...then I start to realize that I may have eaten many bugs over the years unknowingly. Bottom line, how bad would they be?
Whelp, there are government standards regulating exactly how many bugs and bug parts food makers are allowed to feed you. So, digest that...
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My favorite limit was the limit on frass in flour. This was back in the 1980's, and I think the important people got it removed or renamed in the regulations. People were not happy about a standard limit on insect larval poop in flour. Let's not go into rodent issues...

"How to grow Tribolium castaneum" mentions frass:

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  • #5
So confusing….
  • #6
kenny1999 said:
Bottom line, how bad would they be?
Apparently insects are not only edible, but nutritious and eating them is good for the environment. I have seen several articles on edible insects during the last few years, so I tried searching term insects as food. I got some good hits, including this Wikipedia hit:

My experiences with eating bugs includes multiple instances of inhaling small bugs while outdoors, plus one memorable occasion on my motorcycle. I had an open face helmet without a face shield that worked very well until the fairing windshield got broken off 1000 miles from home. Then I made the mistake of smiling while driving through a cloud of soft fuzzy flying bugs. The big fat one that smashed on my front teeth was sort of tasteless. I never did figure out what those bugs were because they were too smashed. Side note: The images found by searching motorcyclist smiling bugs are fake because real bugs are smashed flatter and thinner.
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People have believed for hundreds of years that newts in a well mean that the water’s fresh and drinkable, and in
all that time
never asked themselves whether the newts got out to go to the lavatory.
By Terry Pratchett

Bugs also rare to understands the idea of 'toilet'.

So bugs may be fine if well prepared but food infested with bugs is not the same, regardless of the tolerance of our digestive system.
  • #8
By the way, how bad if we take in chemicals surrounding us consciously? e.g. tiny paint falls from the wall onto the food you don't see, people rub their hands with alcohol gel and some remains on their hand and touch or prepare food and you eat it, endless daily examples that you can imagine
  • #9
kenny1999 said:
By the way, how bad if we take in chemicals surrounding us consciously? e.g. tiny paint falls from the wall onto the food you don't see, people rub their hands with alcohol gel and some remains on their hand and touch or prepare food and you eat it, endless daily examples that you can imagine
That's a broad and difficult to answer question that is very specific to one's situation and prone to over-analysis and excessive concern. It's important to be able to screen for risks with a cursory evaluation. For example, if you live in an old house with known lead paint and it is in disrepair you might have a potential for harm. But if not, you don't. Fresh air contains something like 30 million particles per cubic meter and it is safe to say that anything that can be airborne is in it. There's no general concern with that, but if you have known respiratory issues you may consider adding/improving your home's filtration.

Hand sanitizer residue should not be a significant risk. The active ingredient is poisonous but evaporates rapidly by design.
  • #10
A smart-alec question as a response: If locusts roam through and eat and destroy crops, can the people just collect and eat the locusts?

More seriously, some bugs are targeted by humans to be eaten, like the Cumil beetle, supposed to have a spicy taste and is used in making sauces.

More practical: On occasion I collect certain edible leafs from the garden and can find tiny black bugs on the bottom. I usually cook these leafs in preparation to eat them, also thereby consuming a few of these bugs. So far no troubles. I do not know the identity of these little bugs.
  • #11
I have eaten locusts, at a lab party of an insect neurobiology lab, which mostly was working on locusts at the time. They bred their own, so they had a good supply.
A Thai guy in the lab fried them up in some spicy manner.
Tasted OK, but the legs (mostly hard cuticle) were too crunchy.

In general, insects are usually considered nutrition and a better use of environmental resources for growing food than something like a cow.
Insect larvae (like solder fly larvae) are easy to grow (on food waste for solder flies) and subsituted for other feeds for a variety of animals.
Screen Shot 2022-01-19 at 3.36.35 PM.png

I have used Drosophila (fruit fly) larvae as food for zebrafish. They are very nutritious and often improve egg production.

This reminds me of Dave Baustista's character Sapper Morton in Blade Runner 2049. He grow large maggots (insect larvae) in indoor ponds (in a pretty low density, space inefficient manner).

Kligons say "Yumm!".
Screen Shot 2022-01-19 at 3.57.03 PM.png
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  • #12
And don't forget all of those juicy Spiders we ingest while sleeping, No wonder I wake up not feeling hungry.
  • #13
jrmichler said:
Apparently insects are not only edible, but nutritious
Sometimes I wonder about that. Way back mushrooms were considered a good protein source, but once the non-digestible parts got discounted it's just like broccoli and nothing more.
I have doubts every time chitin comes in play.

1. How safe is it to eat bugs in food?

While the idea of eating bugs may seem unappetizing, it is actually quite safe. In fact, over 2 billion people around the world regularly consume insects as part of their diet. Bugs are a great source of protein and other important nutrients, and when prepared properly, they pose no harm to human health.

2. Are all bugs safe to eat?

No, not all bugs are safe to eat. Just like with any other food, it is important to know which bugs are safe to consume and which ones are not. It is recommended to only eat bugs that have been specifically raised and prepared for human consumption, as they are less likely to carry harmful bacteria or parasites.

3. What are the benefits of eating bugs?

Eating bugs has many benefits, both for our health and for the environment. Bugs are a great source of protein, healthy fats, and essential vitamins and minerals. They are also more sustainable to raise and consume compared to traditional livestock, as they require less water, food, and land to produce the same amount of protein.

4. How do bugs taste?

This can vary depending on the type of bug and how it is prepared, but generally, bugs have a mild, nutty flavor. Some people compare the taste to that of shrimp or chicken. Bugs can also take on the flavors of the spices and seasonings used in their preparation.

5. Can eating bugs help with food insecurity?

Yes, incorporating bugs into our diets can help address food insecurity in many parts of the world. Bugs are a readily available and affordable source of protein, making them a valuable food source for communities that struggle with access to traditional protein sources. Additionally, raising and consuming bugs can create economic opportunities for local communities.

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