Cricket Allergies

Picture of a cricket

What sounds good: lobster roll or…cricket sandwich?!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

That crab cake looks delicious — but watch out! For some, shellfish can cause major allergic reactions! Why? They contain very SPECIFIC molecules known as allergy causing proteins. BUT could a land-lubbing shellfish relative cause the same reaction?

Meet Uptal Bose and James Broadbent from the Australian Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization. 

The researchers took crickets — a distant shellfish cousin — and roasted them slowly for four hours! After cooking, they removed ALL the proteins from the crickets. Then they used liquid mass spectrometry to help them identify the different proteins. The researchers looked through international databases to see if the proteins they found cause allergies.   

And? They found TWENTY different allergy causing proteins! Three of the proteins were similar to those found in shellfish. Don’t be disappointed — but more research is needed before cricket cakes can be delivered to your front door. But these results show that crickets might just need an allergy label!

Jiminy Cricket! Now that’s some ground-BAKING research!

Reference: Bose, U., Broadbent, J. A., Juhász, A., Karnaneedi, S., Johnston, E. B., Stockwell, S., Byrne, K., Limviphuvadh, V., Maurer-Stroh, S., Lopata, A. L., & Colgrave, M. L. (2021). Protein extraction protocols for optimal proteome measurement and arginine kinase quantitation from cricket Acheta domesticus for food safety assessment. Food Chemistry, 348, 129110.