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Wrocław, University of Life Sciences. Students breed insects and study their nutritional value

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Of the 1.6 million species of insects, about 1.4 thousand are edible. Scientists emphasize that as a low-calorie source of protein, vitamins and minerals, insects will sooner or later appear on our tables. As part of a new project, students from the University of Life Sciences in Wrocław want to assess their nutritional potential. They will heat them up and test the smell of the food.

The project “Functional and sensory properties of selected species of insects subjected to heat treatment” is being carried out by the Student Scientific Association of Molecular Cuisine at the University of Life Sciences in Wrocław (UPWr).


They taste what they ate

Dr Anna Żołnierczyk from the Department of Chemistry, Faculty of Food Sciences, UPWr, supervisor of the project group, emphasized that the students not only test insects for sensory properties, but also breed them.

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For the purposes of the latest project, insects, incl. The mealworm larvae of the miller and wood-eater are fed with fruit and vegetable pomace, which has been enriched with unsaturated fatty acids – olive oil and ground nuts.

The insects will be either freeze-dried or heat treated. Next, students will examine their nutritional value and smell. As indicated by the project implementers, insects taste what they eat due to their short life cycle. – If we feed them cinnamon, they will taste cinnamon. So we can grow caterpillars that will be the perfect addition to desserts – indicated Małgorzata Moczulska from the UPWr promotion department.

Students also want to determine the optimal temperature for roasting insects. – As a result of the thermal treatment of food products, when using too high a temperature, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons with proven carcinogenic effect are often produced – adds Dr. Żołnierczyk.

Students will investigate the nutritional value of insectsShutterstock

Insects instead of meat?

Of the 1.6 million species of insects, about 1.4 thousand. fit for consumption. According to Dr. Żołnierczyk, incl. beetles, caterpillars, ants, bees and wasps, grasshoppers, locusts, crickets, termites, silkworms and dragonflies. Both the larvae of insects and their adults are suitable for consumption.

Dr. Żołnierczyk emphasized that adult insects are a low-calorie source of protein, minerals, vitamins, fatty acids and fiber. – One hundred grams of silkworms, for example, cover the daily requirement of all micronutrients. One hundred grams of crickets contain more calcium than a glass of milk, and some caterpillars have ten times more iron than red meat, she pointed out.

Scientists at UPWr recalled that in Asia, Africa and South America, insects are a permanent part of the human diet. In Europe, from January 1, 2018, insects and their parts may be marketed as “novel food” with approval from the European Commission.

Dr. Żołnierczyk reminded that insects are already served in some restaurants in Europe. – As with sushi, which was initially treated with distance, also insects will eventually appear on our tables. Anyway, it may be a necessity. The production of insects uses twelve times less water than the production of beef. Neither that much pasture nor food is needed. From ten kilograms of feed, we can produce about nine kilograms of insects and only one kilogram of beef. Only 40 percent of a cow’s body and as much as 80 percent of insects, and the larvae in their entirety, are suitable for eating – the scientist emphasized.

Main photo source: Shutterstock

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