Thursday, September 8, 2022

Cricket Bread - Coming Soon to a Bakery Near You?

Thanks to this investment by the Canadian government:


...and this announcement by the European Commission (among others):


...crickets are now taking centre stage as a "nutrient-rich" replacement for meat, part of the global aristocracy's plan to relieve us of our need to consume environmentally destructive chickens, pigs and cows.


 A recent article which appeared on the National Institutes for Health (NIH) National Library of Medicine website:



...examines the use of powdered crickets as an additive to whole wheat bread.  


The article opens by noting that, by 2050, the global population will reach an estimated 9.8 billion people and that the traditional diet including livestock protein will be problematic for the environment since raising livestock requires high input resources which emits high levels of greenhouse gases and, as an added issue, threatens pandemics.  As such, scientists have suggested that alternate sources of protein will be essential, particularly sourced from insects which have good protein content and quality, can be raised economically and sustainably and are eco-friendly since raising insects requires less resources such as land, water and management.


In previous studies, wheat bread was fortified with various insect flours including mealworm, the larvae of the black soldier fly and buffalo worms.  For this study, the authors selected house crickets as a source of protein since they are affordable and are available year-round.  Cricket flour contains indispensable amino acids, unsaturated fatty acids, vitamins and minerals as well as whiten and chitosan which can inhibit pathogenic microorganisms.  


According to the authors, whole wheat bread contains more protein (11.48 percent) and fibre than white bread, however, its protein content and quality could be improved with the addition of cricket powder which contains 55.11 percent protein by weight.  The study applied cricket powder to the whole wheat bread and then measured the bread's physico-chemical properties, acceptance by consumers (sensory evaluation) and shelf-life.  


To produce the cricket powder, frozen house crickets were purchased from a cricket farm in Thailand, thawed in a refrigerator for 12 hours, rinsed and air dried.  The crickets were then dried in a tray dryer for 13 hours to reduce their moisture content to between 1 and 5 percent.  The dried crickets were then ground using a hammer mill and sieved to remove larger fragments.  


Whole wheat bread was prepared using the following formulations with the content of cricket powered ranging from 0 percent (the control) and a range of between 10 percent and 30 percent as shown on this table:



Here is a table showing the amino acid compositions of the enriched whole wheat bread with 20 percent cricket flour, the highest acceptable level as determine by the panellists:


Once the loaves were baked, cooled and packaged, they were stored at -40 degrees Celsius until they were analyzed.  


The following properties were examined:


1.) determination of physico-chemical properties including moisture, protein, fat, ash and carbohydrate content.  Physical properties included color of crust and crumbs and texture including hardness, cohesiveness, springiness and chewiness.


2.) shelf life evaluation where samples of the bread loaves were packed in polyethylene bag, stored at ambient temperature and observed for mold growth every day for 7 days.


3.) sensory evaluation where 30 untrained panelists (15 males and 15 females) rated their preference for the different bread samples including appearance, taste, flavour, texture and overall acceptability of the products.


Here is a photo of the slices of bread for each cricket powder content with "a" being the control (0 percent crickets) and "f" being the 30 percent cricket content, observing that the higher cricket content results in darker bread :


Now, let's look at the results of the study.  The highest acceptance score from the panelists was for the bread which was enriched with 20 percent cricket powder as quoted here:


"The result showed that consumers favor the 20% cricket formula the most. Although the results of the 10%, 15%, and 20% cricket formulas were similar in some characteristics such as appearance, texture, color, flavor, taste, and overall acceptability... Although the overall acceptability of enriched bread with 10% cricket flour was not significantly different from that of enriched bread with 20% cricket flour, the enriched bread with 20% cricket flour was selected for the further step because of the higher protein content. In the comparison among all bread, it was found that enriched bread with 20% cricket flour yielded a higher score on the overall acceptability. In terms of the food industry and marketing of the product, sensory evaluation with a high overall acceptability score could be used as the key point due to one of the most significant factors influencing the consumer purchase decision and consumption."


In addition, all cricket powder enriched loaves were harder and chewier than the loaves containing no cricket powder (the control) and the bread containing crickets was quite crumbly due to the high lipid content of the crickets.  All of the loaves had a similar shelf life of 5 days after the production date (first appearance of mold) and, after 7 days, all had a hard texture and bad smell.


The authors suggest that insect-based foods where insects are not directly visible and provide high nutritional features with good palatability could be more acceptable to consumers, however, they do note that their study did not include the biological hazards associated with the presence of spore-forming bacteria in the guts of insects which previous studies have shown to be problematic as shown here:


Other research has also found that their are potential antigens and binding proteins in various insect species which may cause an allergic reaction when consumed.


Here are some excerpts from the authors' conclusions:


"Cricket powder can be utilized as a novel alternative protein source in terms of protein quality, and as an environmentally friendly resource. All enriched bread formulas presented high protein content and the one enriched with 20% cricket powder had the best acceptance without any effect on shelf-life. The derived products successfully combine the compositional and sensory characteristics with some peculiar nutritional properties of cricket....


The edible cricket industry will be expanded by adding up the value of processed products. Moreover, bakery industries and entrepreneurs also yield the outcome from this study with the invention of functional health products. The world is also impacted in terms of world food security and environmental issues because insect farming is more pre-eminent in terms of lower greenhouse gas emissions, water, and soil use, but with higher feed conversion and edible mass compared to domestic livestock. Moreover, making consumers respond with positive attitudes toward innovative insect-based foods is one of the most challenging issues facing the industrial sector."


The last sentence pretty much says it all, doesn't it?  


Let's close with this meme which also sums up the hard-sell to get us moving toward insect-based diets:

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