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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

APRIL 23, 2003

10:04_AM

\tCONTACT: Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI)_

202-332-9110

550 Sickened from Quorn Fungus-based Foods;

FDA Investigation Moving too Slowly, Says CSPI

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WASHINGTON - April 23 - More than 550 Britons and Americans have reported suffering vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, or anaphylactic shock after eating Quorn, the meat substitute made with vat-grown fungus, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI). The foods, which are labeled as "mushroom in origin," or as belonging to the "mushroom family," are actually made with a mold called Fusarium venenatum--venenatum being a Latin word for "filled with venom." The adverse reaction reports were sent to CSPI via Quorn Complaints.com.

In a letter to FDA Commissioner Mark McClellan, CSPI urged the agency to order Quorn off the market. Although the FDA has been investigating cases of adverse reactions to Quorn, CSPI said the agency is moving too slowly and is leaving consumers unprotected from a dangerous new food product. CSPI also told the FDA of a telephone survey it had commissioned of 1,000 British consumers which found that almost 5 percent of people who had eaten Quorn products experienced vomiting, hives, or other symptoms. That percentage is higher than the percentage of consumers allergic to peanuts, dairy, and other major food allergens--and much higher than the adverse-reaction rate (1 out of 146,000) claimed by Quorns maker, U.K.-based Marlow Foods.

"Many of the people who contacted us experienced such severe symptoms that they needed medical attention, including treatment by family physicians or at hospital emergency rooms," CSPI executive director Michael F. Jacobson wrote to McClellan. "One can be certain that CSPI has received reports from only a tiny fraction of consumers sickened by Quorn."

CSPI also told the agency of Marlow Foods plans to market in Europe "mycoscent," a salt-substitute derived from the same fungus. According to a press release from S. Black, a British food company, mycoscent "imparts a salty taste without adding sodium" and "is easy to use in a very widerange of products." Conceivably, said Jacobson, the company could try to get mycoscent used in virtually any processed food in Britain or in the U.S.

"If this dangerous fungus starts showing up as an anonymous natural flavor in foods, even consumers who are trying hard to avoid mycoprotein may get sick," Jacobson said.

In the past year, CSPI has filed several complaints about the safety and labeling of Quorn. In response to a Freedom of Information Act request filed by CSPI, the FDA turned over a company-sponsored double-blind trial which demonstrated that several percent of volunteers experienced gastrointestinal symptoms after eating mycoprotein. Shortly thereafter, CSPI first called for a nationwide recall of Quorn products, but the FDA failed to act.

Marlow Foods is wholly owned by drug giant AstraZeneca, although AstraZeneca is trying to sell it.

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I feel realy unclean, actually taking the same position of the center for consumer freedom, but I really don't like the way the CSPI jumps on certain stuff and says it's bad. I'm not a big fan of quorn, but some people are going to be allergic to it anyway. If you name any food, some people will be allergic or intolerant. This does not mean it should be banned or recalled. My mum gets sick if she eats wheat or anything containing gluten. Perhaps I should ask the CSPI to have bread banned. After all, 98% of people in prisons eat bread regularly, and most violent crimes are commited within 24 hours of consuming bread.

But quorn has been available in Britain for years and years, and I haven't heard about any severe symptoms from it. I justt hink that there's over-reaction here. And I doubt that the center for consumer freeodm will criticise the CSPI on this one since it goes against their anti-veg agenda. But I think that this is a classic case of over-reaction.
 

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Honestly, you're probably right on one hand. On the other, if they're right that the numbers of reactions are higher than typical allergens, then I'd be concerned. You have to be careful with fungus anyway, but even mildly allergic people (I'm allergic to dozens of things) have to be cautious about products like this, because they can concentrate allergens in a way our bodies aren't prepared for.

I just see it as one more argument for sticking with unprocessed foods as much as possible. Whole (organic) foods are always going to be the healthiest choice.
 

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I agree with you there epski. Mycoprotein may just be a new allergen, but in today's society, everyone's allergic to everything, so you might as well stick with simple foods. I'm not one of those guys who only eats unprocessd foods, but I do agree thatt he less processed food you eat, the less crap goes into your body, and therefore, the better you are.

But one thing I disagree with is labelling mtcoprotein as "mushroom in origin." It appears that they've stopped doing that over here, and now they state that it's a member of the fungi family, and they also say that the fungi family includes mushrooms. I think this form of labelling is better. There's no use in lying.

But aside from that, I would not call mycoprotein dangerous.
 

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I have actually read that people in the UK have become ill from quorn. I know I have. Not severe but it has knocked me out for a day and it was only after a few times of haiving it and then realising what I had eaten that I put 2 and 2 together. My husband also gets sick from it but not as bad as me. A friend in the US who tried it did comment that he had a stomach upset the next day when I told him about me. He said he would try it again and see. I am not convinced myself, I think this stuff is suspect.
 

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I don't eat it very often anymore, but when I do it's often in large servings. My stomach doesn't give me so much as a gurgle even after a whole box of nuggets.

I think Loki is right when he said that with any food, especially a new one, some of the population is going to have sensitivities to it. However, for those who have no problems digesting it, it's a godsend.
 

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I hear you but I truly believe that there is a bigger problem. I have read reports of people being sick which normally would have wide interest but it has not made massive media attention because of who makes it. I also have a problem with a "new food" It is not a food that has been discovered but one created.
 

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I don't think I could bring myself to even try and eat it based on what I have read...I've never tried it before and really don't think I want to now.
 

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I agree with epski. Natural foods are best and safest. When man starts genetically altering our food, there's no telling what will happen.
 
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