Informe del Comité Científico de la Agencia Española de Consumo, Seguridad Alimentaria y Nutrición (AECOSAN) en relación a los riesgos microbiológicos y alergénicos asociados al consumo de insectos

  1. Montaña Cámara Hurtado
  2. María Pilar Conchello Moreno
  3. Álvaro Daschner
  4. María Elena González Fandos
  5. Alfredo Palop Gómez
  6. David Rodríguez Lázaro
  7. Jesús Ángel Santos Buelga
Revista del Comité Científico de la AESAN

ISSN: 1885-6586

Year of publication: 2018

Issue: 27

Pages: 11-40

Type: Article

More publications in: Revista del Comité Científico de la AESAN


There is currently significant international interest in promoting and enhancing the consumption of insects. Due to the nutritional properties together with the low ecological and economic impact of production, insect farming and the use of its by-products is turning into a promising food industry which is gradually being developed in Europe, supported by Regulation (EU) 2015/2283 on Novel Foods. In light of the possible increase in the consumption of food products derived from this type of animal, the Section of Food Safety and Nutrition of the Scientific Committee of the Spanish Agency for Consumer Affairs, Food Safety and Nutrition (AECOSAN) has been asked to conduct an assessment of the microbiological and allergenic risks associated to eating insects. Insects are carriers of a highly diverse microbiota. Some of these microorganisms, both from the intestinal contents and from the external surface, are pathogens and may result in food-borne diseases. Technological treatments applied in the food industry, mainly heat treatments (boiling, frying, toasting), help to significantly reduce microbial counts. However, pathogenic spore-forming bacteria may survive these treatments and grow during storage prior to consumption. The risks of allergy associated with the consumption of insects may be linked to primary allergic reactions following intake or to cross-reactivity due to the presence of pan-allergens in patients already allergic to other invertebrates. Heat treatment reduces, but does not eliminate, all of the allergenicity of some of the proteins responsible for allergenic risk. Good hygiene practices must be applied during the farming, processing and marketing of insects intended for human consumption in order to control the microbiological hazards. Consequently, Guidelines to Good Hygiene Practices must be prepared to help food business operators to better understand Community legislation on food hygiene, and to apply it correctly and uniformly. In addition, operators who process and/or market insects intended for human consumption should introduce a system based on hazard analysis and critical control points. At present, no microbiological criteria have been defined for insects intended for human consumption. It therefore seems advisable to develop specific criteria applicable to this type of food product, considering the product type, the processing and other factors which may affect its quality and microbiological safety. At home, basic standards of hygiene should be adopted to minimise the risk of cross contamination, the proliferation of potentially pathogenic microorganisms and their survival.