Quorn explains Mycoprotein “mold” origin as US labeling case is settled


11 Sep 2017 --- Meat-substitute Quorn has reached a class action settlement agreement in a long-running dispute in the US, over the labeling of certain specific food products within its range. 

It involves a controversy in California where Quorn had been accused of deceptive marketing because it failed to make it clear to consumers that Mycoprotein – the ingredient common to all Quorn products – is a mold and could, in very rare cases cause intolerances. 

Mycoprotein is a Fusarium venenatum fungus and is grown by fermentation using a process that has described as similar to the production of beer or yogurt.

In a statement sent to FoodIngredientsFirst, Quorn following the settlement agreement, explains how is its number one priority is safety and how it has “agreed to make a minor change to the US packs”. 

“Safety is – and will always be – our number one priority, as we help millions of people around the world to enjoy great-tasting, nutritious, sustainable and good-for-the-planet meals. This is a mission we have been pursuing proudly for over 30 years and which we will continue to champion,” says the statement.
“All Quorn products are made with Mycoprotein, which is a natural organism and one of the largest groups within the fungi family. Because Mycoprotein is made with a member of the fungi/mold family, it's possible that some people who react to other fungi may also react to Mycoprotein. Mycoprotein is also a source of protein and fiber. All proteins and fiber can cause intolerance to some.”

Quorn, which is owned by Monde Nissin Corporation, stresses that it takes transparency very seriously and has already had some of the most transparent and descriptive food labelings on the market, continually updating and evolving its labeling across all of its markets, including the US. 

Meanwhile, there have been few cases of consumers reporting adverse reactions after eating the meat-free substitute, including vomiting and diarrhea. 

“We advise consumers to be mindful of their personal sensitivities when introducing Quorn into their diet and have updated our packaging to explain possible sensitivities some may have when eating Quorn, despite reactions to Quorn products being significantly less common than foods such as soy, nuts and shellfish.”

“Quorn products are made in North Yorkshire and have been enjoyed by UK consumers for more than 30 years. It complies with all required UK regulatory and international regulatory standards. Our products are eaten in one in five UK households each year.”

The statement also explains how Mycoprotein is not classified as an allergen in any of the 16 countries where it is currently sold. 

“The UK Food Standards Agency states that “between 1 in 100,000 to 200,000 people will react” or be intolerant to Quorn products. “By comparison, one in 200 people are thought to be intolerant to soy,” adds the statement. 
“We can confirm that we recently reached a class action settlement agreement [filed in the District Court for Central California] over the labeling of certain specific food products within our range.  This was a case based on a fundamental misunderstanding [and misrepresentation] of our products. The settlement does not acknowledge wrong-doing or liability in any way.”

Although Quorn has agreed to make a minor change to the US packs, the company says that it could have argued that there was no need to make such a change, but to do so would have been costly and diverted funds away from investment in jobs and production capability. 

“We also felt the request for the change was reasonable; the UK packaging has been relaunched recently and we are also relaunching the US packaging. Overall this is simply a minor change in terms of where the wording is located on the packaging.”
“We look forward to providing consumers with an ever-greater range of good-for-the-planet sustainable products enjoyed equally by vegans, vegetarians and by meat-eaters looking to balance their enjoyment of meat with sustainable alternatives.”

By Gaynor Selby

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