More Interesting Facts
Gluten Free Diet
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Facts on Quorn
Quorn is the
trademark of a fungus-based food product, sold (largely
in Europe) as a meat substitute or imitation meat. It is
marketed at the health-conscious, and to vegetarians.
Some Quorn products contain ingredients derived from
factory farmed eggs.
On 6th June 2005, it was
announced that Premier Foods had completed its
acquisition of Marlow Foods (the owner of Quorn) for 172
million british pounds.
made from the soil mold Fusarium venenatum strain
PTA-2684 (previously misidentified as the parasitic mold
Fusarium graminearum). F. venenatum was discovered in
the soil of a farm near the town of Marlow in the UK in
The fungus is grown in continually
oxygenated water in large sterile fermentation tanks.
During the growth phase glucose is added as a food for
the fungus, as are various vitamins and minerals (to
improve the food value of the resulting product). The
resulting mycoprotein is then extracted and heat-treated
to remove excess levels of RNA. Previous attempts at
producing such fermented protein foodstuffs were
thwarted by excessive levels of DNA or RNA; without the
heat treatment, purine, found in nucleic acids, is
metabolized producing uric acid, which can lead to
The product is then dried and mixed with
chicken egg albumen, which acts as a binder. It is then
textured, giving it some of the grained character of
meat, and pressed either into a mince (resembling ground
beef) or into chunks (resembling diced chicken breast).
In this form Quorn has a light brown color and a mild
flavor vaguely akin to a nutty beef, and is suitable
for use as a replacement for meat in many dishes, such
as stews and casseroles. The final Quorn product is high
in vegetable protein, dietary fiber, and is low in
saturated fat and salt. The amount of dietary iron it
contains is lower than that of most
The patents for the
production technology used to produce Quorn are owned by
its inventors, Marlow Foods. Marlow was a subsidiary of
pharmaceuticals giant AstraZeneca but is now privately
owned. Contrary to some suggestions, Quorn is not
genetically modified: the fungus used is still
genetically unmodified from the state in which it was
discovered. The different tastes and forms of Quorn are
results of industrial processing of the raw fungus.
Marlow sells Quorn brand mycoprotein in its two
ready-to-cook forms, and has recently introduced a range
of chilled vegetarian foods based on Quorn.
fungus was discovered in the 1960s, but remained
something of a scientificcuriosity until 1975. At that
time food economists theorized that the world would soon
experience a significant shortage of dietary protein
(although this never came to be). Several companies
pursued the commercial development of fungal protein
products, of which Quorn was the most successful. Quorn
was first test-marketed in the UK in 1985 (although the
product was not in general nationwide distribution until
1994), and introduced into other parts of Europe in the
late 1990s. As of 2004 it is also available in stores in
the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden and
Its 2002 debut in
the United States was more problematic -- the sale of
Quorn was contested by The American Mushroom Institute,
Gardenburger, and the Center for Science in the Public
Interest. They filed complaints with advertising and
trading-standards watchdogs in Europe and the USA,
claiming that the labeling of Quorn as "mushroom based"
was deceptive. The CSPI, observing that while a mushroom
is a fungus, fusarium is not a mushroom, and they
quipped, "Quorn's fungus is as closely related to
mushrooms as humans are to jellyfish."
expressed concern that some proteins present in Quorn
could produce unexpected allergic reactions in some
consumers, and continues to lobby for its removal from
stores on this basis. But as others counter, milk,
peanuts, soy, eggs, and many other foods are common
allergens (often fatally), setting a precedent that
simply being an allergen for some consumers is not a
reasonable cause to remove a product from stores.
Calling the product "fungus food", CSPI claimed in 2003
that it "sickens 5% of eaters". The manufacturer
disputes the figure, claiming that only 0.0007% (1 in
146,000) suffers adverse reactions. Defenders of Quorn
have alleged CSPI may be influenced by large soybean
agribusinesses because Quorn would compete most directly
with soy based textured vegetable protein.
been criticized by organisations opposed to battery
farming, because although it is marketed to vegetarians,
some Quorn products contain battery egg, the use of
which many vegetarians oppose. For this reason, the
Vegetarian Society initially did not approve these
products. However, since 2000, all of the Quorn products
sold in Europe have been produced using free-range eggs.
All Quorn products sold in the UK are now approved by
the Vegetarian Society.