Acceptability of cricket-based biscuits and assessment of gut microbiota composition in schoolchildren. A study in Bondo, Kenya

Start date: 14 January, 2015 End date: 7 June, 2015 Project type: Master's Thesis (prior to 2018) Project code: A27602 Countries: Kenya Institutions: University of Copenhagen (UCPH), Denmark Grant recipient: Anja Homann Total grant: 20,000 DKK



BACKGROUND: Children in Kenya have a high risk of undernutrition. House crickets (Acheta Domesticus) are rich in many nutrients important for growth and development. Including crickets in products for school feeding programs could prevent undernutrition.

OBJECTIVES: The objectives of this study were to develop a biscuit based on cricket powder nutritionally suited for growing children in Kenya and to assess acceptability of the proposed biscuit as well as the effect on the microbiota composition.

METHODS: The study was a randomized, parallel study. Fifty-four children aged 5-10 years were served 98-102 g biscuits containing either 10 % cricket powder (intervention) or 10 % milk powder (control) during school days for four weeks. At baseline, anthropometry (weight, height, and mid upper arm circumference) was performed and information on prior insect consumption collected. Daily, measures of consumption (weight of biscuits eaten), consumption of breakfast, measures of hesitation and refusal to eat, and morbidity (diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting) were taken. Weekly, hedonic ratings were performed. At the end of the trial, bodyweight was measured and one stool sample was collected per child. Microbiota composition was determined by high throughput sequencing in Denmark.

RESULTS: The cricket biscuit contains linoleic acid, complete protein, vitamin A and B12, iron, and zinc, deficiencies of which are important public health concerns in Kenya. Consumption was 96.9 % and 94.2 % for cricket and milk biscuits (p=0.14), respectively. Hedonic ratings were significantly lower in cricket biscuits for looks (p=0.006), smell (p=0.04), texture (p=0.02), and overall (p=0.01) compared to milk biscuits. No change in microbiota composition was seen between the groups.

CONCLUSION: The biscuits contribute with many macro- and micronutrients important for a growing child in a developing country. The acceptability of the cricket biscuits is high and long-term based on set criteria (>75 % eaten >75 % of the days). Organoleptic properties are rated above average, but further development of the biscuits could possibly increase ratings. The microbiota composition did not change between intake of crickets or milk.