Insect contamination of food

Many societies consume insects as part of their diet (Figure 1.12). For example, aquatic beetles such as the giant water bug, Lethocerus indicus Lepeletier Serville, are eaten as a delicacy across south-eastern Asia. Chocolate-covered bees have been sold in speciality shops in the UK, and in North America some shops sell canned, fried grasshoppers (DeFoliart, 1988; Menzel and D'Aluisio, 1998), whilst Thai cooked crickets in tins are available via the world-wide web.

However, the presence in food of insects that are eaten unintentionally, or could be eaten along with the food, is considered unacceptable to the consumer and a source of contamination. For example, the saw-toothed grain beetle, a stored product pest, may be found in cereal packages; wire worms may be sold along with freshly cut lettuces, or may be processed into lettuce and tomato sandwiches; whilst in many countries, fish and meat which is left in the open to dry can become infested with beetles or flies, either in the drying process or later on a market stall. These are then eaten and have the potential to cause illness. Forensic entomologists may therefore find themselves being asked for an expert opinion in civil cases

Figure 1.12 A tequila bottle label illustrating the Maguey worm, Aegiale hesperiatis Walker (Lepidoptera), which authenticates the drink. Reproduced from a letter in Antenna 6(3) (1982) with kind permission of Dr B. Lawrence and the Royal Entomological Society of London

relating to the food industry, where food has been contaminated by insects living in close association with man (such insects are described as 'synanthropic').

0 0

Post a comment