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3rd February 2021  Product update: newprotein staff writer

Why Test for Allergens in Insect Based Foods?

New Edith Cowan University ECU research is shedding light on allergy-causing proteins which could pose serious health risks for those suffering from shellfish allergy. The research, published in the journal Food Chemistry, identified 20 proteins found in cricket food products which could cause serious allergic reactions for some people.

The project was led by Professor Michelle Colgrave from ECU’s School of Science and the CSIRO.

While insects show promise as an alternative protein source and are identified by Agrifutures as a high potential emerging industry, their allergenic properties are a concern. As the world searches for novel and more sustainable forms of food, consideration must also be paid to those with allergenic properties and that is where Professor Colgrave’s research fits in.

Professor Colgrave says "This research showed a significant overlap in allergenic proteins found in cricket food products and those found in shellfish like crabs and prawn. That’s because crickets, mealworms and other insects are closely related to crustaceans."

"Shellfish allergies affect up to three per cent of people globally, but varies according to age and region, and there’s a good chance that people allergic to shellfish will also react to insects."

Being an allergen does not prevent insects being used as a food source, however it does mean that insect-based foods need to be tested and labelled correctly to ensure people with allergies don’t unwittingly eat them.

The research team from ECU, CSIRO, James Cook University and Singapore’s Agency for Science Technology and Research (A*STAR) compared proteins from whole crickets, roasted whole crickets and roasted cricket powder products to known allergens.

Their results can now be used to detect cricket-derived allergens in food products that can support allergen labelling and safe food manufacture.

‘Protein extraction protocols for optimal proteome measurement and arginine kinase quantitation from cricket Acheta domesticus for food safety assessment’ was published in Food Chemistry.



Date Published: 3rd February 2021

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Note: This content has been edited by a staff writer for style and content.

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