Maggots are the worm-like larvae of flies. According to the textbook, "Biology: Life on Earth with Physiology," the term is most commonly applied to housefly and blowfly larvae. Maggots play an important role in the ecosystem as detritus-eating decomposers, and medical doctors have even used maggots to eat necrotic tissue and aid in wound healing, the textbook explains. The Vagabondish website explains that maggot-infested cheese is a delicacy in Italy, and "Biology: Life on Earth with Physiology" reports that maggots are eaten by some hunter-gatherer societies. However, the book explains that ingesting maggots subjects people to parasitic infections, gastrointestinal problems, food poisoning and allergic reactions.
Myiasis occurs when maggots feed on animal tissue. Botfly is a form of myiasis that commonly occurs in cats but to which humans are also susceptible, according to "Biology: Concepts and Connections." People who ingest maggots provide the larvae with easy access to organs and tissue, increasing their susceptibility to developing myiasis.
Maggots commonly consume organic matter that poses dangers to humans, including fecal material. They also periodically ingest toxic chemicals, explains "Biology: Life on Earth with Physiology." Their role as consumers of potentially harmful items helps keep the ecosystem clear of debris and ensures that soil is nourished with organic materials. However, by eating maggots you expose yourself to everything the maggots have eaten. When maggots are eaten in large quantities, the foods they consume can poison humans.
People with food allergies should be especially careful about consuming food that has come into contact with maggots and should never consume the maggots themselves. There is no way of knowing what a maggot has consumed before it ends up on your plate. Physician William Sears explains in his book "The Portable Pediatrician" that peanut allergies in particular cause reactions even when the level of exposure is tiny, so eating maggots that have consumed an allergen is a risky venture for anyone with food allergies.
Maggots tend to congregate on rotten foods that contain large quantities of bacteria. Casu Marzu — maggot-infested cheese — develops maggots because it is severely decayed. The extreme buildup of bacteria subjects people to food poisoning and other intestinal bacteria, according to "Biology: Life on Earth with Physiology." If maggots have developed on a particular food, it generally indicates the food is unsafe for human consumption.
- Biology: Concepts and Connections; Neil A Campbell
- Biology: Life on Earth with Physiology; Gerald Audesirk, et al.
- The Portable Pediatrician; William Sears
- Vagabondish: Dangerous Dining: The World's 10 Deadliest Delicacies