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'We have to say it': FDA warns those with seafood allergies not to eat cicadas

Paula Shrewsbury
Posted at 6:49 AM, Jun 03, 2021

When the latest round of cicadas emerged this year, many were excited to chow down on the rare bugs. However, one group should steer clear of the backyard delicacy.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned the public Wednesday that those who are allergic to seafood should not eat cicadas because they share a family relation to shrimp and lobsters.

“Yep! We have to say it!” the FDA tweeted with its warning.

According to the FDA, fish and crustacean shellfish are two of eight foods that have been identified as major food allergens that account for about 90% of food allergies. The others are milk, eggs, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat, and soybeans.

The Brood X cicadas began emerging from the ground in several states on the eastern portion of the U.S. in April.

Cicada Invasion
A adult Brood X cicada waves a leg in Chevy Chase, Md., Sunday, May 9, 2021. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

These broods of cicadas emerge in 17-year cycles. So, the next time experts expect to see Brood X is in 2038.

The National Park Servicesays cicadas come out in huge numbers every 17 years as part of a survival strategy call "prey satiation." With that strategy, the predators that eat cicadas can get their fill and there will still be plenty of the bugs left to breed and perpetuate the species.

Some humans are among those predators who enjoy nibbling on cicadas. Jessica Fanzo is among them. She told WMAR that she starts by harvesting and freezing the bugs to kill them before they hit a frying pan.

"We boil them for two minutes, and then we just put them in a frying pan with some sesame oil, garlic, chilis, salt and just eat them as little appetizers," Fanzo told the Baltimore TV news station.

The thought of eating cicadas may be stomach-churning to most, but Fanzo pointed out that eating insects is actually very common in other places around the world. They’re a good source of protein and can help cut down on greenhouse gases.

"The system that produces all of our food, moves it around the world and we as consumers make choices about what we eat, that contributes to about 30 percent of global greenhouse gases," she said.

Still, if you have a seafood allergy, it’s advised to leave the cicada eating to others.