Well-Being Prevention & Cures

Eating cicadas could trigger seafood allergies, FDA says

getty

Story at a glance

  • Trillions of Brood X cicadas have emerged from the ground for the first time in 17 years across several states.
  • Some people have taken to preparing and eating cicadas.
  • The FDA issued a warning that people with seafood allergies shouldn’t consume cicadas because they belong to the same phylum as shrimp and lobsters.

As trillions of Brood X cicadas have emerged from the ground for the first time in 17 years across several states, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has a warning: People with seafood allergies should not eat the cicadas.

Cicadas have historically been eaten by Native American tribes, and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations have supported the introduction of insects into diets as a “highly nutritious and healthy food source with high fat, protein, vitamin, fiber and mineral content.”

Recently, cicadas have become a trend among foodies, spawning recipes for Spicy Popcorn Cicadas, how to prepare Maryland Cicadas (featuring Old Bay, of course) and Emergence Chocolate Cookies.


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But the FDA has cited the insects belonging to the phylum Arthropoda, referring to their “jointed appendages,” being the same phylum as shrimp, lobsters and crayfish — the source of common seafood allergens — as the driving force behind the warning.

“If you’re allergic to one, there’s a chance you can be allergic to both. It’s better to be safe,” Jerome Grant, an etymology professor at the University of Tennessee’s Institute of Agriculture, told The Washington Post.

People who suffer from a shellfish allergy can experience a variety of symptoms from an allergic reaction, ranging from hives, abdominal pain and wheezing, to anaphylaxis. 

About 2 percent of the population, or 6 million people, have a shellfish allergy.


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