Bugs to Dye for

I recently started thinking about insects showing up in foods.  This can be intentional: Starbucks was recently in the news for this j.mp/I0hIb2.   It may be unintentional; reactions to chocolate have recently been linked to cockroach contamination  (The Body Odd at MSNBC.com  http://bodyodd.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/04/02/10984978-chocolate-allergies-linked-to-cockroach-parts ).

Alternatively, you may just want to eat the insects themselves, with a little chocolate on top.  I was downtown in Keene, NH recently at the Ingenuity Country Store (http://www.ingenuitycountrystore.com/). They sell chocolate covered insects, and said that they are (excuse the pun) flying off the shelves.

Edible insects have been even been proposed as a solution for world hunger (LifesLittleMysteries.com

Regardless, the potential for allergic reactions to insects as a part of food exists.

Dr. Dimov has a nice summary ( ) of carmine allergy (a dye obtained from insects) masquerading as an allergic reaction to generic azithromycin.

My grandfather was an entomologist, his brother was a medical entomologist, and for what it's worth, I used to collect insects when I was younger.  People usually only think of insects causing allergic symptoms in the setting of venemous insect stings.  However, many other insects and related critters can cause allergic reactions.  I have included below slides from a talk I gave on this.  The talk goes over the difference between insects (bees, wasps, ladybugs, other beetles, etc.) and an arachnid (spiders, tics, dust mites, etc.).  It then covers a variety of these organisms that can cause allergic reactions.

The history of using dyes made from insects goes back a long time.  I have found some websites that provide interesting reading about this.

  A.  Brief report from ABC News in 2006  j.mp/I0hv7K
  B.  Encyclopedia of Entomology:  history of how dyes are made from cochineal insects  j.mp/I0hUqL
  C.  Webexibits.org: history of insect dyes j.mp/I0i5mb
  D.  Food-Info.net: discussion of cochineal and carmine dyes  j.mp/I0ibKh
  E.  The Fascinating Story of How Those Tropical Insects Made It Into Your Starbucks Coffee -
        Technology - The Atlantic Cities place matters http://j.mp/IQHlgp

No comments:

Post a Comment