Insects and Their Connection to Food Allergy

M. Downs, P. Johnson, Michael G Zeece

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

18 Scopus citations


The food demands of a growing world population have spurred increasing popularity of sustainable, novel food sources, including edible insects. As with any novel food, however, the introduction of insects into foods may pose food allergy risks. Food allergies are an important concern, as they affect an estimated 5% of adults and can result in severe or life-threatening reactions. Novel foods potentially contain proteins capable of sensitizing and eliciting allergic reactions, which have yet to be identified due to the lack of exposure. Additionally in the case of insects, individuals with an existing crustacean shellfish allergy may have allergic reactions upon consumption of insects due to cross-reactivity between homologous proteins found in the different species. While minimal characterization has been conducted on potential insect food allergens, extensive information is available about the clinically relevant homologs from crustacean shellfish, primarily tropomyosin and arginine kinase. This chapter describes the food allergy risks associated with insect consumption and the proteins responsible for these risks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationInsects as Sustainable Food Ingredients
Subtitle of host publicationProduction, Processing and Food Applications
Number of pages18
ISBN (Electronic)9780128028568
ISBN (Print)9780128028926
StatePublished - Jan 1 2016


  • arginine kinase
  • crustacean
  • entomophagy
  • food allergy
  • IgE antibodies
  • insect
  • novel food
  • shellfish
  • tropomyosin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Engineering
  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences


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