Processing edible insects for improved nutritional quality

Effects of processing on nutritional and sensorial quality of edible insect products in the traditional insect value chain in Zimbabwe: Case study of Eulepida species and Henicus whellani.

Food and nutrition insecurity is a challenge in developing countries. Moreover malnutrition, particularly, micronutrients deficiencies are health public concern. Edible insects are amongst underutilised natural resources that can be used to alleviate food and nutrition insecurities. The indigenous insects in Zimbabwe have a high potential to mitigate the risk of food and nutrition security. The scope of the project is going to be limited to two indigenous edible insects, Eulepida species and Henicus whellani. To date, the contribution of these insects to human nutrition have not received much research attention.

Preliminary results on the nutritional composition of the two species, makes them potential species in reducing nutritional insecurities. However, the presence of anti-nutrients in indigenous edible insects can an impact on the protein quality and mineral bio-accessibility Moreover, processing  can have detrimental or beneficial effect on the nutritional quality of the insects products.

The study aims at getting insights in insect consumptions pattern in rural and urban areas, to understand the impact of traditional and new processing on protein quality and mineral bio-accessibility in order to contribute to food security by using indigenous edible insects and improving traditional processes.

A survey will be carried out to determine the state of the current value chain with regards to the consumption patterns, consumer acceptance and traditional processing practices. The nutritional quality and biochemical properties of Henicus whellani and Eulepida sp harvested from different regions and habitats will be determined. Furthermore, the project will look into how processing conditions (heat treatment, time and temperature combinations) are influencing the interactions between proteins, minerals and anti-nutrients. The results can then be used in (re)designing  traditional processes that promote high protein quality and  mineral bio-accessible  insects product.

1. Van Huis, A., van Itterbeeck, J., Klunder, H., Mertens, E., Halloran, A., Muir, G., & Vantomme, P. (2013). Edible insects: Future prospects for food and feed security Rome: Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations.

2. Belluco, S., Losasso, C., Maggioletti, M., Alonzi, C. C., Paoletti, M. G., & Ricci, A. (2013). Edible Insects in a Food Safety and Nutritional Perspective: A Critical Review. Comprehensive Reviews in Food Science and Food Safety, 12(3), 296-313.