Are cockroaches good to eat?

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Cockroaches are the most common insects that are found living in our households.
For example, in the United States, the common species found include the German Cockroach, American Cockroach, Oriental Cockroach, and brown-striped Cockroach. They prefer to dwell in warm and humid places and can survive in different climatic conditions.
Cockroaches eat almost anything, including wallpaper glue, clothes, and paper.

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Are cockroaches good to eat

It is often mentioned that it would be the last living thing to experience a global apocalypse. Archeological findings over the years have revealed that cockroaches predate the ice age and dinosaurs. This makes them one of the oldest living organisms that still exists to date. They are very resilient creatures and have survived many catastrophes, including the Hiroshima nuclear explosion. In short, they are a fascinating species of insects, and we still have a lot to learn from and about them. 

Are cockroaches edible?

For many, the pictures they have about cockroaches is that of filth. Can you eat cockroaches? Do you know that cockroach is regarded as a meal for the rich in some climes? For several millennials, cockroaches have been a staple diet in many cultures, and most people have developed a unique way to prepare these insects. For example, the Chinese deep fry cockroaches to kill any potential parasites. In Taiwan, cockroaches are steam roasted. 

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You Probably have eaten one 

Most of us have eaten cockroaches at one point or the other. In most cases, we ate them unawares. If you have ever eaten in a big restaurant, you probably do not know that some of their ingredients are best preserved when they leave them open; and most times,  this is how cockroaches get into the food.

Below is a compilation of the common ways humans consume cockroaches daily, whether willingly or unwillingly.

Through Foodstuffs

As previously stated, cockroaches have a way of entering anything that looks like food. Even though cockroaches can eat almost anything, they prefer meats, sweets, and starches whenever these are readily available. 

This is why they are a considerable challenge that big restaurants have to deal with. If you leave your foodstuffs exposed, then you must have eaten cockroaches at one point or another, even though you were not aware of it. Since most people wouldn’t eat a cockroach for a thousand bucks, even in China, where they consume them the most, this indirect way of eating cockroaches is the easiest way they find their way into your menu. 

They Find Their Way onto Your Plate

Another way that cockroaches make their way into your menu is when you leave your food exposed. Cockroaches love food. Even though they can go without some for many days, but they cannot resist the sight of food. 

Young roaches are very tiny and you would not notice their presence at a glance. If you shiver at the thought of eating cockroaches, then you should do more to protect your food from them. Especially, cover your pot lids after cooking and cover your food if you know you will come back to eat it later.

Eating cockroaches Raw

You must have seen TV documentaries where people compete to eat creepy things like earthworms and cockroaches; this is another way you can consume them if you wish to try. This is not an advisable way to consume this insect because it can lead to food poisoning and other complications. 

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Grind them into powder

Do you know that cockroaches is not only a meal in China, it is also medicine? Chinese pharmaceuticals have discovered some medical benefits in cockroaches. In fact, they are the biggest buyers of cockroaches, ordering tonnes and tonnes of them from cockroach farms. They dry and grind them into powder, which they believe to be medicinal with little or no side effects. 

Follow a Chinese Recipe

Eating insects is not a new thing. In Africa, many countries have been eating termites for centuries. Spiders are also the favorite delicacy of some people, but in Asia, many countries eat cockroaches. 

The people of China are some of the biggest consumers of cockroaches in the world. They have several delicacies made out of this insect; some of the popular ones involve frying cockroaches in hot oil. They also wrap them into chocolates and some other assorted dishes sometimes. This is another right way you can consume cockroaches. You can get some good recipes online and try them out.

What Happens if a Roach Crawls on Your Food?

Can you eat food that a cockroach has been on? Most people say that you should not bother touching your meal again if you see a cockroach crawling on it. This might be a piece of unbiased and honest advice. However, the situation under which the incident happened must be considered for this advice to make sense. 

Contrary to what most people think, cockroaches can be very clean and edible insects, mostly if they feed only on fresh vegetables and fruits. The only reason the cockroaches in your home are dangerous to eat is that they are probably feeding on decomposed food and fecal waste. Therefore, it depends on where the incidence of cockroaches in your meal happened. If it happened in an environment where they only ate fresh fruits, they aren’t contagious; however, if it happened in your house, you should consider getting something else to eat.

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What Invites Cockroaches into your abode?

Leftover food, flooded dishes, and a warm environment are a combination of cockroaches’ ideal attraction. They can sense the presence of these from a long distance and begin to relocate to the place. If you keep exposed trash cans, you will quickly call their attention to your home.  

But, those are not the only conditions that attract cockroaches. Other things like leaking pipes, damaged water systems, or even your pet’s eating bowls are attractive to these pests because cockroaches love dark, narrow spaces in structures and houses with debris. This provides an ideal hiding place for them and tends to attract them together.

Although not all houses with cockroaches are dirty, clean homes generally have fewer things that can attract cockroaches, and as such, they are less susceptible to cockroach invasion.  

Cockroaches are very inventive insects and adaptable and can live on small crumbs, soap, paint particles, or small drops of water. They can hide in a spot for several days when they sense that the environment is harmful, like when a pesticide is used. This is made possible by their unique ability to survive on only a small portion of food and water for many days. 

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Can you eat Cockroaches raw?

While eating fried cockroaches is good, eating live or undercooked cockroaches can cause many complications, from bacterial infection to food poisoning.  

For example, in some Asian countries, such as China, eating cockroaches is considered normal. Some of these countries consider food from cockroaches only as a treat for the rich. Usually, these expensive dishes from cockroaches come with some “secret” sauce and even edible gold.

Due to the global population explosion, experts have projected that there could be a food shortage in a few decades to come. Current statistics show that over 2 billion people are currently suffering from a shortage of good food. 

Some scientists argue that if everyone could start eating cockroaches, we could end world hunger in a few years.  

Is it safe to eat a Cockroach?

Many people have a rough idea not only about eating cockroaches but also about seeing one. This is a natural reaction because thanks to our evolution, which ensures our safety, our body has developed unique triggers such as the intestinal reflex when you smell rotten food or rotten meat.

From several scientific research studies that have been carried out, it is proven that eating cockroaches is really of nutritional value. Researchers agree that eating cockroaches benefits the body in so many ways. 

What happens if you eat a cockroach?

Below are some of the nutritional advantages of eating cockroaches. 


Do you know that cockroaches contain more protein than most of the table meats sold in the market? The cockroach is packed with protein, i.e., the pound per pound value of protein in cockroaches is more than in a pound of beef or pork.  

In Asian countries where cockroaches are usually eaten, they are typically fried in oil, so the heat from the oil kills bacteria and parasites in the cockroaches. 

You must also be aware that the type of cockroaches eaten as a delicacy in Asian countries is not cockroaches you will find in your home. This cockroach is specially bred for human consumption. They are mostly fed with other insects. 


Apart from being rich in protein, cockroaches are also rich in amino acids and calories. Depending on the type of Cockroach you eat, some may contain magnesium and zinc, necessary for our body’s natural balance. Some people only eat cockroaches, and most of them are very healthy. 

Eating a few cockroaches can save your life in cases of extreme food shortage. 


There is more fat in a pound of cockroaches than most meat you can find at a local butcher. Most living things need oil to survive. This applies to both humans and insects.  

The laying roach has a higher fat content used by the eggs to develop small cockroaches. 

Cockroach oil is, in most cases, extremely healthy as long as the cockroach is cultivated for human consumption.

Some Cockroaches Produce milk

I’m guessing you haven’t heard the word cockroach and milk in the same sentence before except probably when a roach entered your milk. Most people never conceived the idea that a roach has milk. 

Most of the 4,000 species of cockroaches lay eggs, but some produce live cockroaches that survive on breast milk. This is the case with a cockroach called the Pacific Beetle, which feeds its young on milk. 

In addition to being high in protein, Pacific Beetle’s milk contains small crystals that contain vitamins, minerals, sugars, fats, and nutrients. Scientists consider this cockroach milk a superfood because no other milk type is as nutritious as cockroach milk. 

Some cockroaches even produce milk, and the milk obtained from them is considered a superfood by scientists.

Cockroach milk is even three times more nutritious than that produced by a buffalo. It has been proven to contain three times more nutrients, fat, and protein.  

Before you rush to your local Walmart, requesting healthy cockroach milk, keep in mind that it is still not mass-produced. The problem with cockroach milk is that the Pacific Beetle, from which cockroach milk comes, is rare. Growing and collecting large quantities of milk will also be extremely difficult and expensive, as it will be more expensive than gold. 

Eat cockroach eggs? 

Cockroaches lay their eggs for a long time. During this time, they can contact various types of bacteria and even dangerous chemicals such as pesticides. While no research has been conducted around the side effects or potential health benefits of cockroach eggs, it is safe to say that eating cockroach eggs is not a good idea because they are a carrier of many types of disease.  


People who eat cockroaches usually eat them whole, including the eggs in them. 

Collecting a real egg sac from a cockroach is unnecessary and time-consuming. But if you want to eat cockroach eggs, make sure they are ready to eat, mostly fried in oil.  

Generally, when you eat a cockroach egg, nothing happens when you fry it, but don’t eat the cockroach egg you find in your home. They are not suitable for human consumption, take it with a towel and wash it in the toilet. Do not crush broken eggs because they can release small cockroaches and can escape as fast as a cockroach that runs at a speed of 3 miles per hour. They can easily hide in remote places and multiply rapidly.

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Eating cockroaches in China

If you’ve ever been to China, you’ve probably seen some cockroach delicacies in their local markets. Most of these cockroach dishes are built for the sake of tourists who know the country as a mythical place. Most people think that all Chinese eat cockroaches as see it as one of their staple foods. This is not true, some eat cockroaches quite regularly, but most Chinese do not eat them.

In one way or another, cockroaches have been part of Chinese culture for thousands of years. You may think that a cockroach can’t create art, but you’ve entered a modern art exhibition and noticed that it was created by a man, a cockroach, or a cockroach masked by a sea cucumber. 

China has recently seen significant use of cockroaches in the fight against filth and dump sites. There are currently several sites where genetically modified cockroaches are being used to manage garbage and food waste. This Cockroach was known as the super cockroach. An enterprise may have 7 billion cockroaches that eat people’s daily food waste.

What happens when you eat cockroach poison? 

You don’t have to take cockroach poison directly to be at risk. If you have already eaten a cockroach that has absorbed cockroach poisons from pesticides, you may still be at risk depending on the amount of poison. 

Cockroach poison contains several chemicals, but the most harmful one to human health is aluminum phosphide. When eaten, it forms phosphine gas when it comes into contact with water.

This phosphine gas generally kills cockroaches, but can also be deadly to humans. 

According to the law, all poisons’ antidote is activated carbon, whether cockroach poison or not. Activated charcoal should be given as soon as possible to stop further complications of the patient’s health.

Most of these neurotoxins are pyrethrum, which is extremely dangerous to humans and can be fatal if taken in large quantities. The danger in cockroach poisons that contain pyrethrum is that you don’t see the harmful effects. 

Can Eating a Cockroach kill you?  

In some cases, if the cockroach is contaminated with dangerous chemicals, it can potentially kill you. This is because cockroaches develop resistance to pesticides after some time, and therefore, if large amounts of these pesticides are in the ones you eat, the toxins can be enough to kill you.

Apart from this, eating a cockroach can make you very sick and land you in the hospital. This is the reason you are strongly advised not to eat the regular cockroaches that live in your house. They are mostly infected with harmful bacterias and pathogens. 

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Are Cockroaches and Shrimp Related? 

Looking at their exterior appearance, you maybe be quick to assume that they are related. Most people think that there are some similarities between the two utterly different animal species. That’s right; they both look like insects. Some people who have tried cockroaches and shrimp may discover the same taste, although cockroaches and shrimp come from entirely different families.

Shrimp belong to the Penaeoidea family; cockroaches, on the other hand, belong to the Blattodea family. A cockroach is an insect; a shrimp is a crustacean. Summarily, there is no biological relationship between a cockroach and a shrimp, even if they taste the same or look the same. 

What country eats Cockroaches?

For many generations, some people have been eating cockroaches. Some of the most famous countries where cockroaches are eaten include Madagascar, China, and Thailand. The Chinese have huge farms where edible cockroaches are cultivated.

Cockroach Farming in China

In China, cockroaches have been used to create a multi-million dollar industry used in various places, from cuisines to traditional medicine. The industry is developing so rapidly that there are even breeders of “super cockroaches,” and now, with their help, these powerful insects are invited to solve the problem when a Chinese city takes 50 tons of waste per day.

According to a morning report in southern China, Beijing generated nine million tons of garbage in 2017 alone. Guess what the genius idea that was developed to mitigate this waste was? Feed it to the roaches.  

More cockroach farmers are now responding to the calls from the Chinese waste disposal plants by increasing the breeding capacity of their farms and churning them out in their millions. 

Like the pharmaceutical industry, the waste disposal plants are ordering millions and millions of these insects to consume organic wastes. 

In Jinan, the eastern Shandong province’s capital, one plant contains over a billion of these insects, bred for daily waste disposal.


The success of this plant can be attributed to the Shandong Qiaobin Agricultural Technology Cooperative. They have been in charge of managing the plant and have rolled out plans to keep creating more plants in other places around the country. 

According to their plans, they intend to use this method to dispose of about a third of the city’s food waste generated by a population of over seven million people. 

On the other hand, in Sichuan province, these super cockroaches are bred for the pharmaceutical industry. They are grown under controlled temperature and humidity conditions using an artificial intelligence-based system that learns from experience and error.

From the preceding, you will agree that roaches in themselves are not bad. The condition that determines whether a cockroach can be eaten or not is contingent upon many other factors, such as the nature of the environment in which it was raised. 

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Would you like to try some fried cockroach on your next visit to China? 

Luis Gillman
Luis Gillman

Hi, I Am Luis Gillman CA (SA), ACMA
I am a Chartered Accountant (SA) and CIMA (SA) and author of Due Diligence: A strategic and Financial Approach.

The book was published by Lexis Nexis on 2001. In 2010, I wrote the second edition. Much of this website is derived from these two books.

In addition I have published an article entitled the Link Between Due Diligence and Valautions.

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure that the information published on this website is accurate, the author and owners of this website take no responsibility  for any loss or damage suffered as a result of relience upon the information contained therein.  Furthermore the bulk of the information is derived from information in 2018 and use therefore is at your on risk. In addition you should consult professional advice if required.