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Are allergies bugging you? Researchers aim to find out why


Researchers investigating bug allergies may not surprise you, but a group of Queensland scientists are looking to find if there are allergens in food made of bugs.

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As the world looks to alternative protein sources as the global population surges, James Cook University scientists want to know if some people may have a reaction to insect-based foods.

Crickets, black soldier flies and mealworms are all on the menu but Professor Andreas Lopata says people with dust mite or even shell fish allergies may be sensitive.

“House dust mite allergy is much more common than any food allergy,” Prof Lopata said.

“About 30 per cent of the world’s population has allergies to the house dust mite and this prevalence is increasing.

“Initial data from our lab suggests that some of these house dust mite allergens do cross-react to insects.”

This could mean people allergic to the tiny bug may have a similar reaction to food products with insect proteins.

There are already cookies, muesli bars, pastas and – for all the gym bros out there – protein powders which are made from crickets.

“Insects are a very good and nutritious food product,” Lopata said.

“It’s probably part of the alternative food future to feed billions of people as the world’s population grows.”

Lopata and his team will be working with the Australian government’s National Measurement Institute to find allergens in insect-based foods harmful to people and pets.

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