The addition of insects can improve the nutritional value of meat products.

17. 6. 2024
Insects are being discussed as a potential protein source for the future. Small larvae contain high amounts of proteins and healthy fats. Compared to other livestock, insect farming also seems to be more environmentally friendly. Therefore, scientists from the Faculty of Agronomy at Mendel University in Brno focused on using insect powder in meat products. The first results show that the addition of insect material could improve their nutritional value.

In their initial analyses, the scientists focused on two types of meat products – soft salami and sausages. In addition to regular ingredients, they also incorporated cricket powder into these products. “Some might argue that it is counterproductive to replace meat proteins with insect proteins. However, cricket powder, for example, contains 60 percent protein in dry matter, while fresh meat, which naturally also contains water, has a protein content of around 20 percent,” said project leader Adam Kovál from the Department of Food Technology.

The researchers added cricket powder to the products in various proportions. They then tested the chemical composition, textural properties, and conducted microbiological and sensory analysis of the products. “We found that it is more suitable to supplement soft salami with the insect component, where the powder disperses better and creates a homogeneous structure. To make the product sensorily acceptable, the addition should not exceed 10 percent according to our results,” Kovál explained. Cricket powder is quite aromatic, with an unusual taste and smell. According to the MENDELU scientist, it is only a matter of time before consumers get used to the specifics of insect additives.

The scientists’ goal is to create a recipe that meat product manufacturers could potentially use in their facilities. In the future, they would also like to focus on other types of food, such as bakery products.

The legislation allows the use of insects in food. In 2015, a regulation was issued designating insects as a new food. Since 2019, insects have been classified as livestock. There are approximately 2,000 edible insect species, but only the house cricket, mealworm, migratory locust, and mealworm beetle have been approved for use. Scientists are also conducting analyses with these species. Farms approved for insect production for food purposes already exist in the Czech Republic.

In addition to their high content of complete proteins, an advantage of insect additives is that their proteins are highly digestible for humans. Furthermore, insect farming is considered very environmentally friendly. “It’s still a subject of research. However, recent data shows that insects require little feed and water, and they also produce less carbon dioxide compared to common livestock,” Kovál pointed out.

However, insect production is currently not a cheap endeavor. According to Kovál, the situation could change if demand for this type of raw material significantly increases. This could lead to a reduction in the cost of insect products that consumers already see on store shelves. “What you mostly see in stores is insects in their original form, primarily for experiential gastronomy. Bags of dried larvae or flavored crickets are available. Manufacturers are thus trying to familiarize people with insects – to help them overcome their fear and potentially be open to consuming foods with processed forms of edible insects,” Kovál added.

According to the scientist, products with various additions of insect powders could become a common part of supermarket offerings within the next ten years.

Contact for further information: Ing. Adam Kovál, +420 545 133 569,, Institute of Food Technology, Faculty of Agronomy, Mendel University

In the photo: Mealworm beetle (source: Adam Kovál)

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