Findings in detail
The concern is whether bacteria could be pathonogenic to humans (e.g. Salmonella, E. coli, Campylobacter). Unlike poultry and larger animal livestock, these pathonegnic bacteria are unable to replicate inside the insect gut, which reduces the risk.
Substrate choice and processing methods still need to be carefully regulated, and further research is needed.
The report considers the potential transfer of viruses from insects to humans. There is no evidence of a jump having ever occurred.
Humans can act as vectors for some human viruses (e.g. dengue fever) which are able to replicate within the insect. Again however, there is no evidence of this in farmed insects to date.
There is also no scientific evidence for insect virus infections inducing major metabolic changes in insects, that would in turn produce substances toxic to humans.
Further research is nevertheless recommended.
Parasites should not be a problem in properly managed closed farming environments, because they will not have access to all of the hosts needed to complete their life cycles.
The risk of insect-derived prions infecting humans is zero, but there may be a risk of insects acting as vectors for our own prions.
This could be a problem if insects are raised on human or animal derived substrates (e.g. slaughterhouse or sewerage). Further research is recommended into this.
For toxins, the focus is on the substrate used.
For heavy metals, pesticides and biocides, further research is recommended.
For hormones and veterinary drugs, insects should undergo the same testing as other animals.
Allergic reactions to insects can be caused by inhalation or contact, and primarily occur with people who regularly come into contact with insects – e.g. entomologists and fish bait breeders. There have been cases of allergic reactions and anaphylactic shock in humans from consumption.