Crickets in dust, lights and shadows

The immunologist and nutritionist biologist take stock of the alternative that is causing discussion in Italy

Cricket powder on the plate. The green light has arrived from the European Union which has authorized the placing on the market as a new food in the form of a partially defatted powder. We are talking about the species Acheta domesticus, from the order of Orthoptera – the same as grasshoppers – which represents one of the most appreciated edible insects in the world.

“For some time now, cricket dust (allergen ‘Ach d’ from ‘Acheta domesticus) has been part of the list of allergens included in advanced allergy diagnostic tests, demonstrating the fact that insects have already represented a food choice adopted on a large scale to the point of having even induced allergic sensitization procedures, being able to cause, like other types of animal or vegetable foods, adverse skin and/or respiratory and/or intestinal events in sensitized subjects”. This was explained to Adnkronos Salute by the immunologist Mauro Minelli, coordinator for Southern Italy of the Foundation for Personalized Medicine, and for the nutritional aspect by the nutritional biologist Dominga Maio.

“In a world where the consumption of meat on an industrial scale emits a significant percentage of CO2 into the atmosphere, an ecological and sustainable alternative can be represented by cricket powder, of the species Acheta domesticus which, belonging to the order Orthoptera – the same as grasshoppers – it is one of the most appreciated edible insects in the world – recalls Minelli – In the last decade it has gained popularity in countries such as Canada, Australia and the United States, but also in England where it is possible to buy cricket-based snacks , such as bars or crackers”.

However, Minelli highlights one aspect, “there will always be personal taste that will make the difference, the subjective pleasure of the palate and, if anything, also that subtle and courageous temptation to savor something unusual and unedited. Maybe – he points out – it will have been the same for frogs or snails which, in spite of those who should still consider them unpresentable, in reality are now one of the most ideal foods for those who want to vary their diet with taste while keeping fit”.

But what is cricket powder made of? “Scientific evidence shows that it is very rich in both ‘macro’ and ‘micro’ nutrients, although the cricket’s diet influences its final nutritional composition – explains Maio – The Acheta domesticus powder contains, out of 100 grams of product , an average of over 65% of high biological value proteins, composed of chains of essential amino acids, i.e. the amino acids that must be taken in with the diet because they cannot be synthesized by our body.While among the micronutrients calcium stands out, in addition to phosphorus, zinc and iron”.

“Products in which this powder may be used for food use are multigrain breads and rolls, crackers and breadsticks, cereal bars, dry pre-mixes for baked goods, biscuits and filled and unfilled pasta-based dry products, based on potatoes or legumes or vegetables, pizza, pasta, meat substitute products, concentrated or powdered soups”, concludes the expert.