A pilot study: consumer acceptability of Polish style cooked sausages containing house cricket flour
There is a growing interest on insects as food in Western countries. Currently, EU legislation limits the use of insects as food, however, new regulation coming to force in 2018 will clarify the situation. In the ScenoProt project funded by Strategic Research Council of Finnish Academy insects are considered as potential protein source for human consumption, and therefore, some food technological properties of insects are studied in the project. Scientific research has proven mealworm larvae and silkworm pupae originated protein fraction equal to meat protein in emulsion sausages. Generally, it is also of interest how unfractionated, chitin containing insect flour would affect the sensory properties of sausages. The objective of the present study was to investigate the consumer attitudes to Polish style sausages containing unfractionated house cricket (Acheta domesticus) flour. Lean and fatty meat was purchased from local supplier, and three different sets of smoked and cooked sausages were made. The basic recipe contained pork, water, house cricket flour, nitrite salt, and spices. Salt content of sausages was approx. 1.8%. In the first set 1/5, and in the second and third set approx. 1/6 of lean meat was replaced with house cricket flour. The fat content was approx. 12% in the first and 19–20% in the second and third set of sausages. The third set included ordinary Polish style sausage as a reference. Cooking loss of the sausages was acceptable, below 10%. Odor, texture and taste were evaluated by ordinary consumers (n=26) for the first, by media people (n=34) for the second, and by representatives of food industry (n=17) for the third set. Because of potential allergic reaction in shellfish sensitive people, the consumers were informed about the contents of the sausages. Consumer willingness to eat sausages again was recorded for the first and second set and free comments were collected for all the sets. The evaluation scale had five points (1=extremely negative, 5=extremely positive).Only in the first set the evaluations on odor, texture, and taste of the sausages averaged lower than 3. Even the willingness to eat sausages again was approx. 3. This may reflect the interest of the consumers towards food containing insects in general. The increased fat content in the second and third sets of sausages may be one factor responsible for increase in the valuation of the sensory parameters as Finnish consumers are used to the fat content of around 20 % in cooked sausages. In the third set the control sausages showed slightly higher acceptance for texture than the house cricket sausages. In free comments, dryness, dark colour, floury texture, and liver flavor were most often mentioned. In conclusion, consumers may accept non-fractionated house cricket flour as a sausage ingredient but its strong flavor may limit the level of inclusion or lead towards stronger, masking, spicing in the house cricket sausages.