Fake meat raises allergy concern, advocacy group says

WASHINGTON, DC, September 24, 2003 (ENS): A meat substitute sold under the brand name "Quorn" is more likely to cause adverse reactions than shellfish, milk, peanuts and other common food allergens, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). In a letter published in the "American Journal of Medicine," CSPI's Executive Director Michael Jacobson says eating Quorn can cause vomiting, diarrhea, hives, swelling, or even anaphylactic shock.

Quorn is the brand name for mycoprotein, which is made from vat grown mold. It has been marketed in the United States for less than two years, but has been available for more than a decade in the United Kingdom.

Authorities in the United Kingdom forced Marlow Foods to change the labeling, which had falsely claimed that mycoprotein was "mushroom protein," even though it is made from a non mushroom processed mold. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been investigating reports of adverse reactions to Quorn, but CSPI has repeatedly criticized the agency for the pace of its investigation and for allowing its sale in the first place.

CSPI commissioned a telephone survey of British consumers, and found that five percent of 346 people who had eaten Quorn reported adverse reactions. The public interest group says that was a higher percentage of people than reported allergies to shellfish, milk, peanuts, and wheat.

In addition, the study reports on 597 reports of adverse reactions attributed to Quorn. Of those people, 67 percent suffered vomiting; 33 percent diarrhea; 6 percent hives or broken blood vessels in the gastrointestinal tract or eyes; and one percent anaphylactic reactions.

"It is quite astonishing that the Food and Drug Administration considers Quorn Foods as 'Generally Recognized As Safe,' even though many people have suffered severe vomiting or diarrhea, hives, and even anaphylactic reactions," Jacobson said. "Many people said that Quorn made them sicker than they ever were before, that cramps and vomiting were debilitating, and that they had to go to their doctor or the emergency room.

"At a time of widespread public concern about food allergies, it is shocking that the FDA would permit a new food that it knows will sicken countless consumers," Jacobson said. "The FDA should order it off the market immediately."


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