Via forteana: Quorn, the yummy meat-substitute, has been having a hard time of it recently. First, there’s a court case going on in the US at the moment, where some people are suing the company claiming that Quorn makes them puke — now the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority is requiring that they get rid of claims of its “mushroom” origins, and note more clearly that it’s a mycoprotein.
But hey, anyone who thinks eating “real” meat bought in a an average supermarket is a good idea, can stick with that, as the hormones turn them into hirsute, uddered bovines. I’m happy with my mostly-veggie diet.
Gordon Rutter, fungus expert at forteana, notes in passing:
A few years ago there was a court case about mushroom soup – the majority are actually made with boletes rather than what people would think of as mushrooms. The reason is that mushrooms don’t preserve very well whereas boletes do and people did not want lumpy bits of black putrescence floating in their soup.
He also notes that the Quorn fungus is a tiny bit more closely related to the fungus that causes athlete’s foot, than it is to a mushroom. urgh. Now I feel sick.
Date: Wed, 04 Sep 2002 09:51:00 +0100
From: “Gordon Rutter” (spam-protected)
Subject: Re: Mmm, fungal
There are lots of historical precedents over this sort of argument – a few years ago there was a court case about mushroom soup – the majority are actually made with boletes rather than what people would think of as mushrooms. The reason is that mushrooms don’t preserve very well whereas boletes do and people did not want lumpy bits of black putrescence floating in their soup. Thsi was eventually got over when “experts” were brought in to testify that in common useage mushroom refered to something of a particular shape that was fungal in origin and edible.
The quorn people have a bit of problem with names and thigns – a couple of years ago they were informed they were using a totally different species to the one they were telling everyone – who says taxonomists don’t have a job to do.
BTW the species they use is a parasite of grasses which is carcinogenic in humans! Oh to be totally exact it’s a mutated form which is no longer carcinogenic. When BSE hit the headlines quorn production literally doubled over the space of however long it takes to build a fermenter – best thing that could have happened fro them business wise.
As previously mentioned –
Quorn ‘meat’ must be sold as fungus
James Meikle, health correspondent
Wednesday September 4, 2002
The advertising standards authority has declared that the Quorn brand of meat substitutes has been misleading the public by referring to their key ingredient as a “mushroom protein”.
It has told manufacturers Marlow Foods to delete the claim from advertising unless it also gives equal prominence to either the ingredient’s fungal origin or explains its technical origin as a mycoprotein, found naturally in the soil but then put in a glucose medium and fermented.
The food industry is already under investigation by the food standards agency for being too ready to use label descriptions that imply natural, country goodness.
The authority’s decision was in response to complaints from the mushroom industry which alleged that Quorn’s makers were trying to transfer “agreeable associations consumers have with mushrooms” to their product, and from the Centre for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), a US not-for-profit organisation. These related to three magazine advertisements implying that Quorn mince and burgers were “made from a natural mushroom protein”.
But there was some good news for Quorn. The food agency has refused to have the range withdrawn from sale despite the CPSI’s consistent questioning of the products’ safety record.
Marlow Foods, based in north Yorkshire, agreed to suspend the term “mushroom protein” from its promotional material. The chairman of the food agency, Sir John Krebs, has already suggested the term “fungal” was rather more accurate than “mushroom” when it came to decribing the ingredient’s origin.
The company said last night: “We accept the ASA’s ruling. We have always strived to provide meaningful consumer information. We will take the ASA’s comments into account when planning any future advertising.”