What Happens If You Eat Maggots?

Overview

A maggot is a larva of the common fly. Maggots have soft bodies and no legs, so they look a bit like worms. They usually have a reduced head that can retract into the body. Maggot commonly refers to larvae that live on rotting flesh or tissue debris of animal and plants. Some species eat healthy animal tissue and living plant matter.

Why would you eat them?

Some people choose to eat maggots intentionally. Maggots may be fried and eaten in places where eating bugs is commonplace. They can also be used to make a Sardinian delicacy. “Casu marzu” translates to maggot cheese or rotten cheese. It’s an Italian cheese that’s prepared specially to turn into breeding grounds for maggots. While casu marzu may be described as a fermented Pecorino cheese, it’s actually decomposing. It’s said that the cheese is safe to eat as long as the maggots are still living.

It’s also possible to eat maggots by mistake since they’re often found around food, though usually they’re found around contaminated food that you’d avoid. However, eating maggots poses a few risks of which you need to be aware.

Risks of eating maggots

It may be safe to consume maggots themselves, but you may be susceptible to whatever they’ve eaten or been exposed to, such as feces or rotting flesh. Fruit infested with maggots is likely to be rotting and ridden with bacteria. Other risks include the following:

Myiasis

Myiasis is an infection that occurs when maggots infest and feed on the living tissue of animals or humans. It’s most common in tropical and subtropical counties. People who have difficulty maintaining good oral hygiene are particularly at risk. Larvae can settle in areas of the mouth where hygiene is poor.

Eating maggots is also thought to leave the internal organs and tissue susceptible to the larvae, although myiasis is more commonly something that occurs under the skin. The maggots that cause myiasis can live in the stomach and intestines as well as the mouth. This can cause serious tissue damage and requires medical attention.

Myiasis is not contagiousTrusted Source. Symptoms of myiasis in your gastrointestinal tract include stomach upset, vomiting, and diarrhea. In the mouth, the larvae are typically visible.

Bacterial poisoning

Eating maggots or maggot-infested food can cause bacterial poisoning. Most foods that have maggots aren’t safe to eat, especially if the larvae have been in contact with feces. Some housefliesTrusted Source use animal and human feces as breeding sites. They also breed on garbage or rotting organic material.

It’s possible for maggots to become contaminated with Salmonella enteritidis and Escherichia coli bacteria. Symptoms of an E. coli infection include fever, diarrhea, nausea or vomiting, and cramping. Symptoms of salmonella are similar. Both conditions can also cause bloody stool and fatigue.