Can You Enjoy a Meal with Cockroaches?

Did you have a nightmare in which you were eating a cockroach alive? If so, you might have woken up the next day asking yourself: “Can you eat cockroaches?” Well, the truth is, people do eat roaches as fried, raw, and even alive. Yikes!

People have been hunting and collecting multiple insects and bugs for centuries. So there is no surprise they didn’t think of eating them. Many individuals consume roaches as a part of their diet because of their high protein content.

No matter how gross it sounds, you have already eaten cockroaches without even realizing it. Many food items come with insect byproducts, and you consume them without reading the label.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) restricts the number of cockroaches you can include in a meal. So yes, eating roaches is legal and sanitary, but with some conditions. Let’s learn about all of it in detail.

Do People Eat Cockroaches?

People eat cockroaches after washing and cleaning them properly. Insects that breed in a hygienic environment, have proper food, and eat nothing dangerous or synthetic in their diets are the perfect food for humans.

Humans and cockroaches have been living together for years. But this doesn’t mean you can just pick up a roach roaming in your house, fry it, and eat it.

That’s because these bugs may have come from dumpsters or sewerage lines, carrying many diseases and infections. Or perhaps, your neighbors sprayed an insecticide on the roaches before they entered your home. You can never know.

However, if you’re out in pristine woodland and see a cockroach, that could make an ideal choice meal.

What Countries Consume Cockroaches?

Cockroaches are a regular meal in many countries worldwide, including the United States of America, Brazil, Mexico, China, Thailand, Ghana, and the Netherlands.

Of course, people in these countries don’t consume plates full of fried roaches, but they do love to munch on these crunchy insects.

In many countries, insects are used to make certain dyes in food items. If you consume these foods, you will unknowingly eat roaches and bugs. But there is a limit to your daily roach consumption.

Why Do People Eat Cockroaches?

If you’re new to this world where people eat cockroaches, you may wonder why they even have to do that. The three main reasons most people consume roaches are:

  • Medicinal Purposes. Traditional Chinese medicine considers roaches a crucial ingredient in helping with several medical issues. These include stomach ulcers and breathing problems. It’s also believed that cockroaches also boost immunity in humans.
  • Taste. If you like to try new food items, cockroaches can satisfy your taste buds. Believe it or not, these insects are known as “delicious” snacks in different countries, but you should know how to prepare them correctly.
  • Nutritious Snack. Science proves that roaches are edible and have high protein levels. So if you want a nutritious snack to munch on, fry some roaches to have a healthy and nutritious diet.

Your doctor won’t recommend you consume roaches for medicinal purposes. Instead, they will extract useful components from the bugs and put them in a capsule or liquid medicine. These medications will then help you relieve your symptoms.

Do People Die from Eating a Roach?

Consuming cockroach fragments in processed foods isn’t dangerous to your health. That’s because those tiny pieces are first steamed, boiled, sterilized, and then used in food items.

But suppose a cockroach flies directly into your mouth, and you bite it. In that case, it may lead to two situations:

Clean Cockroach Causing No Health Issues

Cockroaches groom themselves all the time, removing all the toxins and dangerous chemicals from their bodies. So if it’s your lucky day (well, not so much), swallowing or biting a clean roach won’t cause any threat to your health.

Humans’ digestive systems can effectively break down insects and filter out germs.

Therefore, apart from the instant disgust, you won’t even notice anything happened. After all, you already consume clean roaches in processed food items and stay healthy.

That’s why you see fried cockroaches sold as a delicious street snack in some Asian countries.

Dirty Roach Leading to Multiple Diseases

Cockroaches don’t contain disease-causing bacteria and allergens naturally. Instead, they pick up these things when roaming in dumpsters, sewage lines, and garbage cans. When they enter your home, they spread these harmful bacteria and cause health hazards.

If you eat any such roach, it may lead to these health issues:

  • Food Contamination. Cockroaches crawl on rotten materials, such as feces, hair, dead plants and animals, and many other gross things. Even worse, they defecate in multiple places in your home, especially in the kitchen and food countertops. All these things lead to food contamination.
  • Disease-Causing Bacteria. Cockroaches also contain disease-carrying saliva and digestive fluids that deposit bacteria and germs from their gut. It may cause multiple health issues in humans, including urinary tract infections, sepsis, digestive problems, typhoid, and dysentery.
  • Allergies and Asthma. Roaches’ bodies contain allergens that can trigger allergic reactions in humans, such as sneezing, skin rashes, and watery eyes. These microorganisms can also alleviate asthma attacks.

If you accidentally swallow a cockroach, you should get yourself checked by a doctor as soon as possible.

Can You Eat Raw Roaches?

Eating raw roaches from farms is completely safe. But if you’re thinking about reaching an ordinary cockroach raw, don’t do that because you have no clue where it has been. It may have just visited a dumpster, came in contact with bacteria, or crawled over insecticides.

If you can’t control your temptation, you must wash and boil or cook it a bit to sterilize it from any harmful allergens. Or else, it may trigger your allergies.

Can You Eat a Wild Roach?

You can eat a wild roach if it lives in a place under healthy conditions. Otherwise, wash and cook it a little to remove dangerous elements from its body.

If you eat a wild cockroach without cleaning it, you may experience:

  • A Foul Odor. These bugs release a substance with a bad odor.
  • A Visit to a Doctor. Wild roaches may feed on human feces when there is no alternative available. So they might be carriers of harmful pests.
  • An Allergic Reaction. If you’re allergic, wild roaches may trigger a reaction.

Always clean and cook a wild roach before eating it.

Is It Safe to Eat Cockroaches Alive?

It is safe to eat only those alive cockroaches bred on hygienic farms. Go for those roaches that are clean, fresh, and not exposed to poisons and insecticides. But again, clean and cook them to ensure safety and crunchy taste.

The right way to eat a cockroach alive is:

  1. First, put the bug in your mouth.
  2. Start chewing immediately because the roach will probably fight back.
  3. Don’t think about the bug’s taste, or you may throw or spit it out.
  4. Now, swallow the bug without focusing on its taste.
  5. You are done.

Are There Any Benefits of Eating Cockroaches?

As you know, cockroaches make an excellent nutritious snack. Besides protein, they also contain several other nutrients beneficial for your health.

Here are some nutrition based on the type of cockroach you eat:

Nutrients American Cockroaches Dubai Cockroaches
Protein 65.6% 35.6%
Fats 28.2% 61.2%
Fibers 3.0% 6.75%

These are just estimates based on the information we have right now. So always consult a doctor before including roaches in your diet as a protein source. That’s because they may cause health issues or allergies in you.


Can You Get Sick From Eating a Cockroach?

You can’t get sick from eating a cockroach if it was bred in a hygienic condition. You must also clean the roach and cook it a little to kill all the disease-causing bacteria and allergens. Never consume a cockroach without your doctor’s consultation if you are allergic to insects.

What Does a Cockroach Taste Like?

Cockroaches don’t have a particular taste, as every species has its own texture and flavor. Generally, fried roaches taste and smell like fish. Some roaches also taste like chicken since both are made of water and protein.

Is It Healthy to Eat Cockroaches?

It is healthy to eat cockroaches as long as they are sterilized, cooked, and bred in a safe environment with proper food. But if you have any underlying health issues or skin allergies, eating roaches can be bad for you.


Cockroaches are a nuisance to deal with, but they do make a delicious and nutritious meal. People from different parts of the world regularly consume raw, alive, and fried roaches as a protein source or for medicinal purposes. Here is what we know about eating roaches:

  • Only eat roaches that breed in hygienic conditions with healthy foods
  • Always clean or cook roaches before eating to remove harmful bacteria and allergens from their bodies
  • Cockroaches don’t have a specific taste, but they’re believed to taste like chicken or fish.
  • Swallowing a roach without cleaning it can be dangerous since you don’t know where the bug has been. It could have just come from a sewer or crawled over an insecticide.
  • If you’re allergic, always eat a roach after your doctor’s consultation.