Every year, Westerners eat a variable quantity of insects, which are present in many food products, without knowing it... Let's take the mealy bug as an example. This insect is used to colour a large part of the dishes we eat regularly, from cold cuts to sodas and yoghurts.

The cochineal secretes a colouring agent which makes it possible to produce E120, a food component notably found in Coca-Cola. It can therefore be used as a colouring agent, and certain dishes and foods, such as Frankfurter sausage and other forms of cold meats, will get their pinkish tint from this little insect. It can also be used to pigment other dishes, such as certain yoghurts, biscuits, drinks, etc.

On the other hand, many sweets, chewing gums and jellies are coated with a shiny substance called Shellac resin, also known as E904. This is a resin produced from an Asian insect. In fact, Shellac is the natural resinous secretion developed by the Laccifer (Tachardia) lacca Kerr (family Coccidae) or lacquer scale, living on the trees of the forests of India.

Even more interestingly, insects have an unavoidable presence in the cereals, fruits and vegetables that make up the Western diet, and this presence is fully recognised and authorised by food standards. For example, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) allows peanut butter producers to place 30 insect fragments per 100g in their merchandise.

And it doesn't seem to bother consumers any more than that... Indeed, one study has shown that between 55% and 70% of Americans are willing to accept 10% or more insect meal in a cookie or in their favourite food.

In conclusion, we eat insects every day, but without necessarily knowing it...