FSA News Item, 3 September 2002
The Food Standards Agency has rejected claims by an American organisation that the mycoprotein Quorn is unsafe.
The US Centre for Science in the Public Interest sent the Agency details of some people who reported that they had reacted against Quorn and said it should be withdrawn from sale. But Food Standards Agency Director of Food Safety Policy Jon Bell told the CSPI:
'Any protein containing food has the potential to cause an allergic reaction. When Quorn was approved for use in the UK some 15 years ago it was first trialled in the company's restaurant and then in one region of the UK. Allergy clinics were asked to report any change in the normal pattern of food intolerance with which they were dealing at that time. As a result of these studies it was known that there was a low level of intolerance to the product amongst the UK population.
'In a further study carried out in 1994 this was put at 1 in 200,000 so the latest figure of 1 in 146,000 is not unexpected and would not appear to change the position in any significant way. Given this level of intolerance and the fact that some 13 million units of this product were sold in 2000 alone it is not really surprising that you have been able to find people who appear to be intolerant to it.
'However, it is important to recognise that several commonly consumed foods and food ingredients have much higher intolerance levels than this. For example, the intolerance to soya is reported to be 1 in 300 and that to shellfish, even higher.
'Having considered the information that you have provided, but taking into account the fact that those who are intolerant to it are able to avoid it by studying the label (the company has recently agreed to make further improvements to the way that this material is described), the Food Standards Agency does not consider that, on present evidence, it would be right to prevent those people who currently enjoy this product from being able to continue to purchase it if they wish.'