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North America farm projects?!


I've heard of some leaders in entomophagy or other ways to value insect as food or supplements. There is Ynsect in Europe (France) I think, but is there the same in North America?!

I'm a chemist and worked with chitin as a by-product from fisheries which we valued. As with crab there are chitin in insects and potentially way more compounds which we have interest to investigate in R&D. Is there some bioengineering or biochemistry anywhere in the world except for Ynsect?!

I want to make part of this entomophagy-revolution mainly for ecological reasons.



  • Hi Charlee, - I assume you are considering making chitin into chitosan. The solubility of chitosan is a function of how it was produced: ratio of chitin to alkalai processor, % alkalai used, temperature (& to lesser extent time) processed, how kind of chitin substrate undergoes the de-acetylation, resultant particle size & any further treatments to the extract. Various sources of chitin do not yield the same rate of chitosan from the same amount of chitin; just because one source may have the most quantity of chitin this does not work out to the most chitosan made.

    Different sourced chitin results in different capacity for chelation of "+" charged cations. The precise % of chelation affinity is due to variations in -NH2 molecular wing groups whose isolated pairs of electrons form dative co-valent bonds with empty molecule orbitals where different metal "+" ions have co-joined together. For example: chitosan made with chitin red crab chelates more of both copper & iron than the chitin from shrimp/lobster, while chelating more zinc than chitin sourced from lobster & zinc equally as good as chitin derived from shrimp.

  • Charlee, a reposting regarding chitin fed to fowel.

    Chitin adsorbs (ties up) inorganic fluoride which keeps the formative bone apatate crystals from getting too large & thereby forming poor quality bones. Chitin also helps keep the bone "cement" calcium phosphate level up. There is fluoride bound to chitin to begin with, but that fluoride is not problematic ingested tied to the chitin.

    One study addressed chicken fed both added chitin & added chitosan (processed chitin); as opposed to normal feed. The conclusion is that chitosan leads to lower fat/cholesterol broiler chickens & their body weight is less than either option. There are human dietary supplements of chitosan also touted for weight-loss.

    The authors decided that, in contrast, chitin did not lead to any statistical different lower weight or feed intake than a normal diet. Due to the chemical form of chitin being acetylated (vs. chitosan which is de-acetylated) it is relatively insoluble as it transits the chicken's digestive tract. However, some sea birds do have enzymes (chitino-lytic chitinases) or get those enzymes in their food chain which does allow those birds to break apart (de-acetylate) chitin to liberate more nutrients; these are usually krill feeders &/or arthropod shell feeders.)

    Chitin enriched broiler feed passed quicker through their duodenum & their duodenums held less of both organic matter & dry matter. One feature of the duodenal clearing was also some reduction in crude protein digestion. In addition, those fed extra chitin had less short chain fatty acids (ex: butyric & acetic) in their caecal contents.

    See (1994) "Effect of chitin and chitosan on nutrient digestibility and plasma lipid concentrations in broiler chickens"; link =

    What is termed double sheared chitin is chitin that is blended & ground finely to pass through a 40-60 micron mesh. It has a molecular weight that is between 350,000 -450,000.

    To really feed an extra 2% chitin (aside from in the form of whole insects) to poultry you want to get the molecular weight down to 85,000 by passing it through a 40 micron mesh. The only benefit is to make the chickens have less fat; while acheiving normal weight, smooth flesh under skins & gizzards that separate properly.

    In order to get chitin molecular weight down is a multi-step process. For every 1.0 grams of chitin place it first in 3 ml of 85% phosphoric acid plus 7 ml of 2-propanol. Then slow heat stirring for 2 hours, take off heat & pour in 13 ml of cool H20 to cool the temperature.

    Use a cream separator (or centrifuge) to spin off the liquid which is discarded. The "solids" (sludge) needs to be cleared of chemical residues by flushing it (the solid/sludge) 2 times with clean water & a final rinse with alcohol (or acetone).

    The cleaned solid/sludge is then blended at high speed, frozen, ground finely & finally passed through a 40 micron mesh screen. This very fine end-product is the easiest for the chicken's digestive tract (at 2% of total feed) to adapt to & transition rapidly to their normal excretion.

    Although chitin contains about 7% protein & some creatures can digest anywhere from 2-20% of chitin this does not mean that protein can be absorbed. Probably the most benefit from adding chitin to chicken feed is that it promotes bifido-bacteria colony size in their gut.

    Once you are making the 85,000 molecular weight chitin you can add 2% of that to wheat bread batter & this processed chitin increases the loaf size. Which could give a value-added product marketable to the baking sector & maybe can find similar volume boosting effect for other baked goods.

    We eat chitin in our human diets since it is part of fungal walls; for example in fermented foods using fungal culturing agents (ex: miso). The chitin in Baker's yeast getting hyrdo-lized during baking generates pyrazine molecules that contribute a roasted smell to the aroma bouquet of fresh bread.

  • edit correction: "fowl" was mispelled

  • Hi gringo! You assumed right for chitin.

    A few months ago, I saw a low cholesterol product which had chitosan or chitin as an active compound and I wonder why! now I know more about it. Are there farm using this 85k mw chitin? Is it costy? The reducing molecular weight process seems a lot classic in term of chemical transformation, are there some ''physical'' ways cheaper that have been explored?! And/Or greener ways?!

    For the bones, does chitin adsorbs the inner fluoride in bones [and calcium take back its place] so people suffering from fluoride can recover? Or it prevents having fluoride in blood while eating chitin to sequestrate the fluoride?

  • Hi Charlee, - Since this Forum is for bugs I'm going to suggest you search for some of the more current medical uses of chitosan nano-particles. If you have difficulty getting good leads ask & I'll link some.

    Meanwhile, looking at insect chitin the different parts of the cockroach variety Periplaneta fulignosa give a guideline for where related adult insects might have chitin worth trying to collect. The following data is specific % chitosan that be made from the exo-skeleton in specific parts of the cockroach: dorsal abdomen = 37.65%; hindwings = 18.22%; ventral abdomen = 37.11%; metathoracic legs = 35.55%; mesothoracic legs = 33.28%; prothoracic legs = 32.24%; pronotum = 31.55%; head = 31.07%; genitalia =29.28%; dorsal thorax = 29.07%; ventral thorax =28.33% ; antennae =27.77%; cerci =25.65%; forewings = 19.99 %; crop/gizzard = 18.69%; hindgut =18.15%. Data from (1934) "The distribution of chitin in an insect", Journal of Morphology, Vol 56, Issue 1

    In terms of desirability of insect chitin vs. shellfish chitin (2004) "The Study of Isolation Chitin and Chitosan from Dung Beetle" reports that, quote: '...content of chitin in dung beetle ... is several times higher than the shell of shrimp & crab ... chitin content in shells is about 6-14% in average & the chitin content of the dung beetle is 28.7% ...quality of chitin & chitosan from dung beetle is better than the shells for residual ash content of chitin, the viscosities of chitosan & the color of chitin products."

    Insect chitin made into chitosan can have lower molecular weight (ie: more desirable size) than shellfish chitin. Blowfly chitosan molecular weight of 501 kiloDaltons is much less (ie: more desirable) than average 989 kiloDaltons "... of the commercial chitosan ... & its degree of deacetylation ..." was 87.9-89.6% & thus better than the average 83.8-85.8% ... "of the commercial chitosan ...." As per (2013)" Physicochemical properties and antioxidant activity of chitosan from the blowfly Chrysomya megacephala larvae";

    In contrast a different blowfly's larval chitosan was compared to shellfish chitosan in a (2007) Kenyan study that the blowfly yielded 66.7% chitosan, whereas prawns yielded 75% & crab 74.6%. The full text of "Characterisation of chitosan from blowfly larvae and some crustacean species from Kenyan marine waters prepared under different conditions" can be located via

    (2015)"Chitin extraction, Composition of Different Six Insect Species and Their Comparable Characteristics with That of the Shrimp" published in Journal of American Science;11(6) is available as a free full pdf online. The insects studied were a Desert grass hopper, Green bug, German cockroach, American cock roach, Vespid Wasp & Scarab beetle.

    Quote: " All chitins exhibited similar chemical structures, physiological properties and were suitable for chitosan production...." However they differed in the degree of de-acetylation achieved in the chitosan & the greater the de-acetylation the better the chitosan is. For these 6 insects the rating of de-acetylation from highest to lowest is: Vespid wasp > grass hoppers > German cockroach > American cockroach > scarab beetle > green bugs.

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