Cricket chips come to Australian schools as scientists urge the next generation to embrace shifting global food demands. (Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
1,000 Australian Schools Introduce ‘Eco-Friendly’ Chips Made From Edible Insects
By Jessie Zhang
Australian school children have been offered chips dusted with a cricket protein made by the edible bug company Circle Harvest.
The company says the products are helping the planet address man-made climate change.
The Western Sydney company began selling its insect chips to 1,000 schools this year and expects to increase this number sixfold before mid-2023.
So far, schools across New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia, and Western Australia have purchased more than 500,000 packs.
Founder and entomologist Skye Blackburn says the company has also started working with nursing homes on introducing insect proteins that are easier to digest and are more popular with older people.
Circle Harvest was featured as a case study in a 2021 CSIRO report titled “Edible insects: A roadmap for the strategic growth of an emerging Australian industry.”
The national science and industrial research agency found that the main obstacle to the growth of the edible insect market was the current state of consumer attitudes.
Blackburn is not deterred, saying that peanut butter, flour, and orange juice are already permitted to contain a small number of insect parts.
“You are already eating insects—you just don’t know,” she told the Daily Telegraph.
“It’s better for you, and it’s better for the planet,” she said.
Potentially Harmful for Humans
However, there are some concerns being raised over the product after a spokesperson for the Food Standards Australia New Zealand (FSANZ) said that Australia doesn’t have regulations on insects like the US.
“There are no specific limits for insects in foods; however, the presence of foreign objects such as insects may render food unsuitable,” the FSANZ spokesperson told the Epoch Times.
“The Code specifies that food businesses take all necessary steps to prevent the likelihood of food becoming contaminated, such as keeping food processing areas and equipment clean, well maintained and free of pests.”
Australia’s leading food science organisation Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) also said that food should be “unadulterated”, “suitable” and “not contain foreign matter such as insects.”
Farming insects for human consumption is a relatively recent trend that is not as widespread in Western countries as in developing countries.
Western consumers are particularly concerned about food safety, such as the microbiological and chemical health risks of eating insects.
Recent studies have shown that 18 percent of fatal reactions to foods in China were a result of consuming insects, while nearly 8 percent of insect consumers in Laos exhibited allergic reactions.
The authors of another study said that the scientific literature on insect food is lacking, perhaps due to the fact that it is popular in developing countries where there is not as much formal documentation of health hazards associated with edible insects.
These hazards include allergens, pesticide residues, mycotoxins, heavy metals, pathogenic microorganisms, and parasites, amongst others.
While the consumption of insects has been gathering global attention, the researchers conclude that the benefits of edible insects as an emerging food source must be weighed against potential food safety issues.