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Group says Quorn fake meat may cause illness

Dec. 1, 2011 at 1:12 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, Dec. 1 (UPI) -- The Quorn line of meat substitutes causes gastrointestinal distress and may even cause a life-threatening allergic reaction, a U.S. non-profit group says.

Michael F. Jacobson, executive director of the Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington, asked Michael Taylor, the deputy commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to revoke Quorn's "generally recognized as safe" designation for the meat substitutes made from fermented fungus -- Fusarium venenatum.

If the agency intends to allow Quorn's "mycoprotein" to remain on store shelves, it should at least require a prominent warning label, Jacobson said.

Quorn, a meat substitute used for artificial chicken patties or nuggets, imitation ground beef, cylindrical "roasts," as well as other meatless options such as Cranberry & Goat Cheese Chik'n Cutlets, Jacobson said.

The principal ingredient is a microscopic fungus, which the company feeds with oxygenated water, glucose and other nutrients in giant fermentation tanks, Jacobson said.

"Once harvested from the tanks, the material is heat-treated to remove its excess RNA, and then dewatered in a centrifuge," Jacobson said. "Combined with egg albumen and other ingredients, it is then 'texturized' into various meat-like shapes."

The non-profit group first urged the FDA to take Quorn off the market in 2002, and has been collecting adverse reaction reports at QuornComplaints.com. To date, it has collected some 500 adverse reports from Americans and 1,200 more from Europe and Australia, involving vomiting, diarrhea, fainting, or blood appearing in stools, vomit or eyes.

A smaller percentage of complaints involved hives or potentially fatal anaphylaxys, Jacobson added.

© 2011 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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