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Open AccessArticle

Influence of Feeding Substrates on the Presence of Toxic Metals (Cd, Pb, Ni, As, Hg) in Larvae of Tenebrio molitor: Risk Assessment for Human Consumption

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Dipartimento di Scienze della Vita e dell’Ambiente, Università Politecnica delle Marche, via Brecce Bianche, 60131 Ancona, Italy
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Dipartimento di Scienze Agrarie, Alimentari ed Ambientali, Università Politecnica delle Marche, via Brecce Bianche, 60131 Ancona, Italy
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Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16(23), 4815; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph16234815
Received: 24 September 2019 / Revised: 26 November 2019 / Accepted: 27 November 2019 / Published: 30 November 2019
Larvae of Tenebrio molitor L. (Coleoptera: Tenebrionidae) are particularly suitable as novel food for the human consumption; nevertheless, there are some potential safety risks linked with insect consumption. In this study we investigated the presence of Cd, Pb, Ni, As, Hg in new feeding substrates coming from solid residues generated by olive fruits processing, called olive-pomace, and their influence on the metal content in larvae of T. molitor. Morover, bioaccumulation factor and the mercury-selenium balance were evaluated. Analyses were carried out via graphite furnace atomic absorption spectrophotometry for Cd, Pb, Ni, As and Se, and via Direct Mercury Analyzer for Hg. All metal concentrations found in feeding substrates were below the legal limit of undesirable substances in animal feed (2002/32/EC). Concentrations in larvae were in the range (mg kg−1 wet weight): Cd 0.008–0.016, Pb 0.063–0.079, Ni 0.03–0.63, As 0.021–0.023, Hg 0.12 × 10−3–0.49 × 10−3, and Se 0.057–0.085. Statistically significant correlation between metal content in feeding substrates and in larvae was evidenced only for Hg, which bioaccumulates. Se protects from mercury toxicity, with a Selenium Health Benefit Value (HVBSe) of > 0. Overall, our results indicate that the risk of exposure to metals from consumption of mealworm larvae is relatively low and in compliance with European Union regulations. View Full-Text
Keywords: edible insects; Tenebrio molitor; food chemical safety; toxic metals; mercury-selenium balance; atomic absorption spectrometry; direct mercury analyzer edible insects; Tenebrio molitor; food chemical safety; toxic metals; mercury-selenium balance; atomic absorption spectrometry; direct mercury analyzer
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Truzzi, C.; Illuminati, S.; Girolametti, F.; Antonucci, M.; Scarponi, G.; Ruschioni, S.; Riolo, P.; Annibaldi, A. Influence of Feeding Substrates on the Presence of Toxic Metals (Cd, Pb, Ni, As, Hg) in Larvae of Tenebrio molitor: Risk Assessment for Human Consumption. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2019, 16, 4815.

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