Writing in the Journal of Food Science, the scientists noted that the properties of non-meat ingredients do affect the quality of processed meat, and the pH and salt content of processed meat can impact the functional properties of non-meat proteins like soy protein. However, no study has been published that explored the impact of salt content (known as ionic strength) of emulsified meat products (which can range between 14 to 18 g/kg total mass) on the functional properties of insect protein.
The experiments revealed that house cricket powder could be used to replace up to 10% of lean meat/fat portion in meat emulsions without negatively impacting textural properties or cooking yields.
“Thus, our findings suggest that house cricket [powder] possess the necessary physical properties to be used as an alternative non-meat ingredient for incorporation within emulsified meat products, which could be further explored in subsequent sensory-based studies,” wrote the authors.
The Purdue-Texas A&M researchers evaluated the functionality of powder made from house crickets (Acheta domosticus, purchased from All Things Bugs LLC) at pH ranging from 2 to 10 and at different salt levels (NaCl concentrations from 0 to 2.10 M) in a meat emulsion composed of 60% lean pork, 20% back fat, and 20% ice. The cricket powder was used at levels of 5% and 10%, based on a total sample weight.
The researchers wrote: “Our results show that protein solubility of house cricket [powder] is affected by NaCl concentration, but this had little impact on water absorption capacity, emulsifying capacity, and gel formation ability of house cricket [powder].
“When house cricket [powder] was substituted for 10% lean meat/fat portion in meat emulsion, protein and some micronutrients (phosphorus, potassium, and magnesium) were fortified without negative impacts on cooking yield and textural properties.
“Further studies determining the effect of house cricket [powder] addition on sensory attributes and microbial stability of emulsified meat products would be warranted to use house cricket [powder] as a commercial food ingredient to develop advanced concept of emulsified meat products.”
The regulations around insect products
FoodNavigator-USA (FNU): Are all insects considered to be food, or just those with a history of being consumed by humans?
FDA spokesperson: “Under the FD&C Act, as amended, insect/bugs are considered food if they are to be used for food or as components of food (Sec. 201 (f)).
"The use of an insect as an ingredient in food must either be regulated under a food additive regulation or be GRAS to be lawful. The FDA suggests that all food manufacturers considering the use of insect ingredients consult with the agency, given the increasing evidence of allergenicity concerns.
"Specifically to meat and poultry, in the absence of an existing regulation, the USDA will ask for a GRAS notice for the use of a new ingredient as part of their evaluation, as described in this MOU between the USDA and FDA."
Source: Journal of Food Science
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1111/1750-3841.13960
“Effect of House Cricket (Acheta domesticus) Flour Addition on Physicochemical and Textural Properties of Meat Emulsion Under Various Formulations”
Authors: H-W. Kim et al.