Quorn linked to dozens of potentially fatal allergic reactions as sales soar thanks to growing numbers of vegans and vegetarians
- Meat substitute associated with more than 1,700 self-reported sickness cases
- Comes as sales of the trendy UK meat alternative rises globally to 16 per cent
- Its rise in popularity coincided with an increase in the number of vegetarians
More than 1,700 self-reported cases of sickness associated with the product have been highlighted in a research paper by food and health campaigners
The popular meat substitute Quorn has been linked to ‘life-threatening allergic reactions’.
More than 1,700 self-reported cases of sickness associated with the product have been highlighted in a research paper by food and health campaigners.
It comes as sales of the trendy alternative to meat, invented by British scientists, have risen globally by 16 per cent alongside a rise in the number of vegetarians and vegans.
It is also popular among ‘flexitarians’ reducing the amount of meat they eat as a health and lifestyle choice.
But now research by the US-based Centre for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) claims it appears to cause sometimes life-threatening allergic and gastrointestinal reactions.
The CSPI has campaigned about potential risks since the death in 2013 of Miles Bengco, 11, from California, who ate a Quorn Turk’y Burger that allegedly triggered an asthma attack.
The boy’s parents have been involved in a legal case against Quorn in the US, but it has been reported that a judge plans to rule that the product was not a factor after testimony from expert witnesses.
Quorn is described by the company as a mycoprotein grown in vats from the fungus Fusarium venenatum.
After court action by the CSPI in America, the firm was obliged to put labels on packs there warning that there have been ‘rare cases of allergic reactions’.
A similar label pointing out that Quorn carries a small risk of an allergic reaction appears on packs sold in the UK.
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The CSPI paper says: ‘Of 1,752 reports analysed for the study, 312 reported allergic reactions, including hives, itching and difficulty breathing or swelling of the throat, tongue, mouth or lips.
‘Ninety-two, or 29.5 per cent, of those people reported seeking medical attention.
‘A total of 1,692 people reported gastrointestinal reactions such as nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea or cramping.
‘Some suffered both allergic and gastrointestinal reactions.’
The study, published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, said: ‘Physicians, health departments and lay allergy organisations should be aware of this possibly under-recognised mycoprotein-associated cause of adverse reactions.
Quorn is described by the company as a mycoprotein grown in vats from the fungus Fusarium venenatum
‘Health officials should consider whether this unnecessary cause of severe adverse reactions should be permitted in the food supply.’
Quorn, which has a UK head office in North Yorkshire, was first developed in the 1960s by British scientists to answer fears of global food shortages.
Its sales in the UK rose by 12.5 per cent last year, while in Europe it was 27 per cent and in the US 35 per cent.
Quorn Foods challenged the scientific validity of the CSPI report, saying it contained factual inaccuracies ‘that appear to wilfully mislead or misrepresent these facts’.
It added the fact that claims of illness are based on self-reporting meant the findings and research lacked independence and objectivity.
The company added decades of independent safety testing have demonstrated ‘mycoprotein was nutritional and safe for human consumption’.
It said: ‘All Quorn Foods’ data is regularly shared with the US Food and Drug Administration and other food regulators, which support that Quorn is a safe and well-tolerated product.’
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