Thursday, October 11, 2012

Death of cockroach-eating contest winner may have been an allergic reaction

Remember Edward Archbold?
He collapsed right after winning the contest in South Florida, competing with 30 contestants eating ate live cockroaches and well worms at the competition in Deerfield Beach
Even though it will be weeks before an autopsy reveals what killed Eddie Archbold, experts have said that eating the roaches and other insects should not have been the cause.

While participating in the Midnight Madness bug-eating contest at Ben Siegel Reptiles, Eddie was eating so many live roaches he had to cover his mouth to keep them from crawling out, swallowing some of them whole while still alive.

He ate meal worms, 35 three-inch-long 'super worms' and a bucket of roaches, but soon after he started vomiting and collapsed in front of the store.

Dr Bill Kern, a professor of entomology at the University of Florida, said it could have been an allergic reaction to the large amount of foreign protein that killed the 32-year-old.
He told the Herald: 'We know cockroaches shed a lot of allergens, but they’re not toxic in and of themselves. 
'Very few [human] cultures tend to eat cockroaches because they store large amounts of uric acid and nitrogenous waste. And they tend to be scavengers and feed on things most people wouldn’t consider to be desirable.'

None of the other 30 competitors fell ill after the contest and store manager Ben Siegel's attorney said the roaches were all raised in sterile conditions and were perfectly safe to eat. 

Safe or not, all competitors were asked to sign waivers acknowledging the risks of gastrointestinal illness, adverse allergic reactions - especially in those with shellfish allergies - and injury or pain associated with consuming live insects as they pass through the esophagus.

Matthew Karwacki, was standing next to Eddie as they both ate the meal worms in the first round. But he said when he tasted his first cockroach, he was done.
'I just had one roach and tapped out after that,' he said. 'The taste did not suit me, but the texture for sure was the worst part.
'If you could look inside a dirty gutter and scoop up what’s in there, that’s what went through my head. All the other contestants kept eating roaches, but I had to look away.'
'We feel terribly awful,' said store owner Ben Siegel, who added that Archbold did not appear to be sick before the contest. 
'He looked like he just wanted to show off and was very nice,' Siegel said, adding that Archbold was 'the life of the party.'