Written by

David Floyd

David Floyd

Reviewed by

Brett Ehlert

Brett Ehlert

Can You Eat Cockroaches? – Are Roaches Safe To Eat?

Are you interested in trying roaches as a unique insect delicacy? Or are you simply curious about the idea? If it is the former, you may be pleasantly surprised to learn that cockroaches are indeed edible. However, it’s important to note that not all cockroaches are fit for consumption. Only those that are specifically bred for consumption and fed a clean diet (primarily consisting of fruits and vegetables) are safe to eat. So, let’s dive into this guide and explore the question – can cockroaches be eaten?

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Can You Eat Cockroaches?

Yes, you can eat cockroaches, but ensure they are cooked. Roaches can be a great source of protein and fiber and is often included in many dishes in Southeast Asia.

Many cultures find cockroach delicacies exquisite and beneficial to the human body even if a dozen others frown at it. Similarly enough, many people eat ants as well!

The Chinese believe that roach food is highly medicinal and contains enzymes that can relieve respiratory conditions and stomach ulcers. They also believe that, since cockroaches have strong immune systems, they are likely to boost your immune system if you consume them.

But first…

can you eat cockroaches

What Are Cockroaches Made Of?

Cockroaches are composed of chitin (which is a hard substance that gives the exoskeletal structure). It also consists of proteins and fat with tiny amounts of vitamins and minerals.

In a study, cockroach gut was seen to contain a substance that had strong antibacterial properties and could treat a range of drug-resistant bacteria.

Since cockroaches are so beneficial, an important question comes to mind- “why then do most people shy away from even the thought of eating them?” The answer is quite glaring if you’re familiar with how disgusting they often are.

What Do Cockroaches Taste Like?

Just the way different kinds of meat have different and unique flavors, the same is true for cockroaches.

German cockroach tastes fairly bland and has a crunchy feel to it. When cockroaches are cooked, they tend to remain crunchy still instead of softening as you would expect from similarly edible insects such as grasshoppers and crickets. Fried ones have a fish-like taste and smell. Funny enough, each species of roaches can actually taste differently.

The innards of a cockroach— which tend to remain moist even after being cooked are known to taste like blue cheese.

Do Cockroaches Taste Like Shrimp?

Yes. Hissing cockroaches, which are mostly found in Madagascar, have been described to taste like shrimp. It is a fantastic dish that is often served in Thailand and can be used to substitute shrimps in stir-fry recipes. Insects with similar flavors include crickets, lobsters, and grasshoppers.

Cockroaches are considered a great meal in many parts of the world like Mexico and Japan. It’s a special delicacy that can be fried, boiled, roasted, or sauteed. Whichever way they prefer it prepared, it does make a brilliant meal for those who eat it. 

What about deep-fried cockroaches? Well, Deep-fried cockroaches are the most common kind of delicacy made with cockroaches. It is prepared by frying them in cooking oil until dark brown and crispy. It is then sprinkled with salt and sugar, which when caramelized is ready to eat. They are crunchy to eat and particularly taste like salted crisps.

Where Do People Eat Cockroaches?

So, if you’re asking: ”do people eat cockroaches?”, then yes! Cockroaches could be delicious and certainly possess nutritional benefits. A roach meal is highly appreciated in some lands. Some countries that consume it include:

  • Brazil– a small town in Brazil called Silveiras hosts a bug-eating event towards the end of each year. A variety of snacks and dishes are prepared with all kinds of bugs such as termites, crickets, cockroaches, and grasshoppers.
  • China– China champions the world of cockroach-eating globally. As cockroaches are rich in important nutrients, the Chinese harness their medicinal benefits to the human body.
  • Thailand– this culture has an appreciation for deep-fried roaches and cockroach snacks.
  • Netherlands– the Netherlands is a culturally diverse country. While some cultures are receptive to the foreign influence of cockroach-eating, a dozen others find it unpalatable.

Are Roaches Dangerous?

Cockroaches generally are harmless. However, they often carry pathogens that can cause allergic reactions and food poisoning. Some of these pathogens include Staphylococcus aureus, Dermatillomania, and Salmonella typhi which can cause very serious gut and skin infections.

For pets like dogs and cats, cockroaches are safe to eat. They do not transmit any disease to pets. Instead, because of their protein and important vitamin content (such as zinc, vitamin B, and Selenium), they can help boost the immune system of your pets.

Humans on the other hand can get sick if they ingest pathogen-carrying cockroaches. It is only safe for us to eat clean ones specially bred on fruits and vegetables.

Check out our guide on natural ways of getting rid of cockroaches.

Can You Eat Food That A Cockroach Has Been On?

Any food that cockroaches have touched will have pathogens on it and can make you ill if ingested. They carry bacteria that can cause dysentery, typhoid, and staphylococcus. These are often responsible for gut diseases such as diarrhea, cholera, and typhoid fever. So avoid eating food that has been exposed to them.

Here’s what to do if you find a cockroach in your food: Experts suggest that you first throw away the food and every other edible found in the area where the cockroach has walked through. Then wash the contaminated bowls and cutlery, then disinfect the surrounding surface to kill pathogens that you might have missed.

Final Thoughts On Eating Cockroaches

Cockroaches, whilst being a pest in many homes, have somehow managed to appeal to the taste buds of many across the world. They form different delicacies that belong to cultures of different walks. The Chinese take out some enzymes found in cockroaches which they believe can cure illnesses such as ulcers and respiratory infections.

However, household cockroaches should never be consumed as they mostly feed on trash and unhygienic food, and will cause serious infections if improperly consumed. It is advised to eat only cockroach dishes prepared by professionals, as they specially breed and feed them with healthy fruits and vegetables.

Cockroaches can also carry pathogens that can cause allergic reactions and infections. Some of these include Staphylococcus aureus and Dermatillomania.

They consist of trace amounts of vitamins and minerals and are also rich in protein. These elements are beneficial to pets such as dogs and cats. Despite the pathogens that cockroaches carry on their exteriors, the pathogens are completely harmless to animals.

I hope you have enjoyed this guide on can you eat cockroaches!

Resources:

https://www.epa.gov/ipm/cockroaches-and-schools

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/staph-infections/symptoms-causes/syc-20356221

David Floyd:

David Floyd has 20 years of experience working as a pest control technician as well as running his own pest control company. David is Quality Pro certified and is a certified Structural Pest Control Operator in the state of North Carolina, and the owner of NCPestControlExperts pest control company.

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