The FDA Would Like to Remind You Not to Eat Cicadas If You Have a Seafood Allergy
With the return of Brood X cicadas to the surface after 17 years underground, this is your chance to see what it’s like to eat cicadas. But if you have a seafood allergy, the Food and Drug Administration wants to remind you that it’s probably best to skip this particular crunchy snack.
Every 17 years, Brood X cicadas tunnel their way to the surface across the eastern U.S. Some of them will go on to fly free, mate, and lay eggs. But others will find out very quickly that some humans like to eat cicadas. In fact, eating insects such as cicadas is a normal and surprisingly nutritious culinary tradition in many countries, Wired explains. And some in the U.S. are capitalizing on the Brood X resurgence to give them a try. For instance, an educational garden and plant sanctuary in Maryland recently held Cicadafest, a festival that featured a tasting menu of cicadas (“nature’s gushers”) prepared in different ways, The Atlantic reports.
If you happen to be one of those people who likes to eat cicadas (or wants to find out if you are), know that they have some things in common with lobsters and shrimp. That makes them a risk to those who have allergies to seafood, the FDA said in an announcement on social media today. “Yep! We have to say it!” the agency tweeted. “Don’t eat cicadas if you’re allergic to seafood as these insects share a family relation to shrimp and lobsters.”
Shellfish is a major food allergen that, along with fish, eggs, milk, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, soybeans, and sesame, accounts for more than 90% of all documented food allergies in the U.S., the FDA says. These allergens are also especially likely to cause severe and even fatal allergic reactions.
On the milder end, food allergies can cause itching or tingling feelings in the mouth as well as hives, eczema, and itching elsewhere on the body, the Mayo Clinic says. When the reaction is more severe, it can cause symptoms such as swelling of the face or lips, diarrhea, and wheezing. In some cases, food allergies can lead to anaphylaxis, which is a life-threatening response that causes swelling in the airways, difficulty breathing, and potentially death if not treated quickly.
So as enticing as it may or may not be to eat cicadas, the FDA’s warning is an important one—especially for those with seafood allergies.
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