Time for FDA to Protect Consumers from Dangerous "Quorn" Fungus-based Meat Substitute

Statement of CSPI Executive Director Michael F. Jacobson

August 18, 2014

Of the several shortcomings of the Food and Drug Administration’s oversight of food additives exposed in today’s Washington Post, none is more glaring than the agency’s lack of curiosity in the safety of Quorn-brand meat substitutes.

The vat-grown, fungus-based product should have set off alarm bells at the FDA at first glance. The fungus at issue, Fusarium venenatum, had never before been used in human food before it became Quorn. (“Venenatum,” inauspiciously, is Latin for poisonous.) As the Post points out, the company’s own study indicated that almost five percent of test eaters became ill after eating Quorn.

But since Quorn’s introduction we’ve collected more than 2,000 adverse reaction reports from consumers who have eaten Quorn. Some have had nausea, cramps, or diarrhea; others have vomited so forcefully they’ve burst blood vessels in their eyes. Others had life-threatening anaphylactic reactions. And two deaths—one in California and the other in Sweden—appear to have been caused by the meat substitute. The FDA should have pulled this dangerous product off shelves a decade ago.


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