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Acceptance of insect foods among Danish children: Effects of information provision, food neophobia, disgust sensitivity, and species on willingness to try

Ainslee L. Erhard, Magda Águas Silva, Marie Damsbo-Svendsen, Bat-El Menadeva Karpantschof, Helle Sørensen, Michael Bom Frøst
Food quality and preference 2023 v.104 pp. 104713
Orthoptera, buffaloes, entomophagy, flour, food choices, food composition, food quality, hedonic scales, insects, meat, protein sources, questionnaires, taste
The growing global population and rising demand for meat increasingly pressures the world's resources. Edible insects are a promising alternative protein source to unsustainable conventional meat. Despite this, disgust and neophobia are cited as significant barriers to the adoption of these novel foods in Western diets. The primary aim of this study was to assess the effects of providing three types of information — the taste, health, and sustainability benefits of entomophagy (i.e. the practice of eating insects) — on the willingness to try and hedonic response to insect-based foods among children. In addition, the differences between insects (buffalo worms and cricket) in unprocessed form and in various food applications were examined. Food disgust sensitivity, food neophobia, willingness to try, familiarity, and hedonic response to insect foods were measured. The implications of the appropriateness (as a food ingredient and to be raised as livestock) of two different insect species on acceptance were also explored. The data were collected through an online questionnaire administered in school classrooms from a sample of Danish children (n = 181). Results showed that communicating information about the benefits of entomophagy did not increase the willingness to try insect foods, irrespective of the type of information. Food neophobia was found to be a strong predictor of willingness to try insect foods, whereas food disgust sensitivity had no effect. There was no correlation between food disgust and food neophobia scores. Furthermore, certain types of insect products were found to be better liked than others (e.g. cookies over falafel). There was a species effect on hedonic response when presented as a whole insect although not when presented as processed products made with insect flour.