Edible Insects: A Neglected and Promising Food Source

A. van Huis*, F.V. Dunkel

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

7 Citations (Scopus)


The interest in insects as human food in the Western world is increasingly considered as a viable alternative to other protein sources. In tropical countries it is common practice and about 2000 insect species are eaten. Insects emit low levels of greenhouse gases, need little water, and require limited agricultural land. Their protein content is similar to conventional meat, the level of unsaturated fatty acids is high, and they are a good source of B vitamins and minerals like zinc and iron. Promoting insect consumption requires the farming of the insects. In the Western world, consumer acceptability will relate to pricing, perceived environmental benefits, and the development of tasty insect-derived protein products, such as cricket bars. The main food safety issue, like seafood, seems to be allergies, which can be addressed by labeling. As insects were until recently not considered food, legislation lags behind and needs urgent attention. Edible insects have high potential to contribute to a more sustainable and socially more equitable global food security.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSustainable Protein Sources
EditorsSudarshan R. Nadathur, Janitha P. D. Wanasundara, Laurie Scanlin
PublisherElsevier Inc. Academic Press
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)9780128027769
ISBN (Print)9780128027783
Publication statusPublished - 26 Oct 2016


  • Edible insects
  • Entomophagy
  • Environment
  • Ethno-entomology
  • Food security
  • Insect products
  • Insects as food
  • Nutrition
  • Protein source
  • 016-3980

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  • Cite this

    van Huis, A., & Dunkel, F. V. (2016). Edible Insects: A Neglected and Promising Food Source. In S. R. Nadathur, J. P. D. Wanasundara, & L. Scanlin (Eds.), Sustainable Protein Sources (pp. 341-355). Elsevier Inc. Academic Press. https://doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-802778-3.00021-4