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article imageFood made from mealworms could address world hunger

By Tim Sandle     Jan 22, 2017 in Health
Is the answer to global hunger and issues of food scarcity consuming insects? If so, can insects be turned into food, through processing, that is recognizable today? One food research group think so.
The basis of the food nutrition study was to develop food ingredients from mealworms and crickets. These types of insects are seen as especially suitable due to their structure and flavor. In particular, these raw materials could provide the basis of meatballs and falafel.
The research has come from the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland. Although the findings have yet to be published in a peer reviewed journal, the technical information produced outlines the effective use of certain insects as the raw ingredients for different foods.
The VTT Technical Research Centre has taken mealworms and crickets and developed a dry fractionation method to readily produce insect fractions with varying flavors and degrees of coarseness. With the methodology, fine fractions, which contain small amounts of the outer chitin shell of insects, can be used for one type of food and coarser fractions for other types of food. In terms of tastes and textures, the finer fraction tend to feel rough on the tongue and they have a strong meat-like taste, In contrast the coarser fractions impart a milder in flavor and the chitin levels are higher.
There could also be health benefits through the process for the fractionation method can lead to the removal of fat. This not only leads to food with a lower fat content it also helps to maximize the protein recovery. The process overall paves the way for a large scale, commercial production of insect-based food raw materials.
The solids produced have proven to be especially useful for the manufacture of meatballs and falafel balls. The use of insects helps to raise the protein content compared with the use of traditional ingredients.
To use insects for mass production requires legislative changes. There has been lobbying, for instance, of the European Union to allow mass production using insects as raw materials to take place. Should such legislation be passed then mass insect farms could become the norm.
Although in excess of 2 billion people worldwide include insects in their daily diet, both the U.S. and Europe regulators have concerns when it comes to allowing the use of insects as food. Some indicators suggest opposition is declining. However, the crunch question is: would you eat foods manufactured using insect derived material?
More about Insects, mealworms, Hunger, Food
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