Quorn Mycoprotein

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Quorn and Mycoprotein FAQs

1 What is Mycoprotein?
Mycoprotein is the ingredient common to all Quorn™ products. It’s a completely meat-free form of high quality protein and is also a good source of dietary fibre. It is low in fat and saturates and contains no cholesterol or trans fats at all.

Mycoprotein is made in fermenters similar to those found in a brewery. It’s made by adding oxygen, nitrogen, glucose and minerals to a fungus called Fusarium venenatum.

These ingredients combine in the fermenter to form a continuous supply of Mycoprotein which is harvested and dried before egg albumen is added to help with binding.

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2 Is Fusarium venenatum a mushroom?
No. Common mushrooms are one type of fungi, of which more than 60,000 species have so far been identified. Mycoprotein is made from a blend of minerals, glucose and another nutritious member of the fungi family called Fusarium venenatum.

Fusarium venenatum is microscopic and very different in appearance from the fungi species one would buy in a greengrocer but it is unquestionably part of the fungi kingdom – a group of cellular plant organisms which lack chlorophyll.

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3 Can Mycoprotein lower cholesterol?
A number of studies suggest that Mycoprotein is associated with a reduction in LDL cholesterol levels. For a fuller discussion click here.

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4 What is the impact of Mycoprotein on satiety?
There is evidence that Mycoprotein has greater satiating power than other foods with a similar fibre content. For a fuller discussion click here.

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5 What impact does Mycoprotein have on glycaemic response?
There is evidence to suggest that Mycoprotein may be useful in the management of obesity and type 2 diabetes as it appears to show beneficial effects on glycaemia (glucose in the blood) and insulinaemia (insulin in the blood). For a fuller discussion click here.

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6 Are there any issues relating to allergenicity or intolerance relating to Mycoprotein?
All protein foods have the potential to cause an adverse reaction in some consumers. About one in 200 people are thought to be intolerant to soya for example. Even more are thought to be allergic to shellfish.

Because Quorn™ products are made from fungi, it's possible that some people who react to other fungi may also react to Mycoprotein.

The Food Standards Agency states that "research estimates that between 1 in 100,000 to 200,000 people will react to it" (Quorn™ products.)

Quorn™ products have been eaten in the UK, for more than 20 years and are eaten in one in five UK households each year.

In January 2011 Marlow Foods, the company that makes Quorn, convened a one-off independent expert panel in London to discuss consumer reports of adverse reactions to mycoprotein.

The panel is reported to have concluded:

  • The number of reported adverse reactions to mycoprotein is very low and it is likely that most of these incidents relate to the high fibre content. Mycoprotein provides around 5.5g of dietary fibre in 100g of Quorn mince or pieces. The Panel hypothesised that, in certain individuals or under certain conditions, consuming mycoprotein could speed up the normal transit of foods from the small to the large intestine. This could, in turn, cause the fibre in mycoprotein to be fermented very rapidly in the large intestine, leading to symptoms of gastro-intestinal distress of the type reported by some consumers. The small numbers of consumers at risk from this type of gut response may have an imbalance in their normal gut bacteria, an unusual dietary intake of fibre (too low or too high) or may suffer from irritable bowel syndrome.
  • True allergic reaction to mycoprotein is extremely rare and the frequency is substantially less than for any of the recognised allergens such as egg, wheat or soya.

The panel recommended to Marlow Foods that it should improve how data on adverse reactions are collected in order to understand better which types of consumers may be susceptible. Marlow Foods said it had taken on board this recommendation.

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7 Does Mycoprotein contain mycotoxins?
No. The conditions under which Mycoprotein is produced preclude the production of myco-toxins and every production batch is analysed using state of the art technology capable of detection at the ppb (parts per billion) level.

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8 Is the protein in Mycoprotein of a high quality?
Yes. The Protein Digestibility-Corrected Amino Acid Scoring (PDCAAS) method for assessing protein nutritional quality takes into account the essential amino acid profile of foods, its digestibility, and its ability to supply essential amino acids in amounts required by humans.
The PDCAAS for Mycoprotein is 0.99, which is more than beef at 0.92.

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9 Is Mycoprotein made by Genetic modification?
No. Mycoprotein is made by fermenting a blend of glucose, minerals and fungi. We purchase all ingredients to a specification that they are from a non-GM source. This can be checked by the IP (Identification Preserved) process, and we also conduct PCR (polmerase chain reaction)

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10 Is Mycoprotein organic?
No. It’s not possible to guarantee to the organic status of all the ingredients used for Mycoprotein.

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11 Is Mycoprotein vegan?
Whilst the majority of Quorn products contain a small range of free range eggs, to help with binding, we have launched a Vegan range in a number of countries and look forward to developing this further.

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12 Are there any groups of people who should not eat Mycoprotein?
The majority of Quorn products contain a small range of free range eggs, to help with binding, so are not suitable for vegans. However, we have launched a Vegan range in a number of countries and look forward to developing this further.

People who are known to have an adverse reaction to fungi should avoid Mycoprotein. Mycoprotein is safe for children.

Quorn™ products are perfectly safe for children and babies but because of the high energy requirements demanded by the rapidly growing child we do not recommend that Quorn™ products replace meat totally in the diet of young children and babies (less than 3 yrs old) because of their low energy densities (number of calories per gram) and satiating (satisfaction of appetite) effects. However as part of a well balanced diet Quorn™ products are perfectly safe to introduce to young children in small amounts.

Note; most Quorn™ products are unsuitable for coeliac sufferers and people who are gluten intolerant since they contain either roasted barley malt extract (brown products), wheat ingredients, or are made in factories which handle wheat ingredients.

Lactose is present at low levels in most of the range of Quorn™ products. Therefore whether or not Quorn™ products are suitable for people who are lactose intolerant depends on the product type and the particular sensitivity of an individual to lactose. infosheet

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13 Is Mycoprotein suitable for diabetics?
Data from a clinical trial* indicates that Quorn™ products may have a beneficial role to play in the control of diabetes by influencing glycaemia and insulinaemia after a meal and the fact that Quorn™ products are relatively low in free sugars is also a positive effect.
*Am J Clin Nutr 61 (1) p135-140 1995

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14 Does eating Mycoprotein cause any side effects?
The only side effect which may occur after eating Quorn™ products is that in common with other fibre containing foods some flatulence may develop in susceptible individuals - this generally only occurs after the first few times of eating the products and soon disappears.

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15 What is the impact of products made with mycoprotein on the environment?
The debate about the environmental impact of food production has focused almost exclusively on greenhouse gas emissions. However, more and more commentators acknowledge the growing importance of land use.   

This is usually referred to as Indirect Land Use Change (ILUC) and it relates to the amount of agricultural land required to produce food. There is a particular and understandable concern about the clearance of rainforest to grow crops and provide land for grazing.

Some commentators have suggested that ILUC could emerge as a reliable indicator of the overall environmental impact of food production as it is directly related to greenhouse gas emissions and other important measures such as water use.

A preliminary analysis conducted by De Montfort University in 2009 suggests that the production of one tonne of QuornTM mince and pieces requires just 15 per cent of the land required to produce one tonne of beef and somewhere between 77 per cent and 87 per cent of the land required to produce a tonne of poultry.

But this almost certainly understates the true picture. Further analysis is currently being carried out and we believe it will show that, in terms of land use, Quorn mince and pieces has even greater advantages over beef and poultry.

The same preliminary analysis showed the production of Quorn mince to have lower levels of greenhouse gas emissions compared with meat. Further analysis is being conducted which will be published in due course.

For further information, please download this paper presented by Tim Finnigan at the Food 2030 conference in January 2009

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