Mycoprotein is a meat substitute made from the fusarium venenatum fungi. While this organism does grow naturally, for food purposes it is processed in a controlled environment using oxygen, nitrogen, glucose, vitamins and minerals.
Once the mycoprotein is harvested, filtered and drained; it is bound with free-range eggs, textured and seasoned into a palatable vegetarian protein. Next it is processed and packaged into a variety of chicken, turkey and ground meat substitutes. Mycoprotein is an excellent source of biotin, fiber, iron, protein and zinc. It is naturally low in fat and calories, while reporting zero cholesterol. This high quality protein also contains 9 essential amino acids.
This mycoprotein ingredient is unique to other meat substitutes and marketed worldwide under the trade name of Quorn™. While making its debut in Britain in 1985, Quorn™ has been sold in the United States and other major countries since 2002.
There have been some heated disputes questioning the safety of using mycoprotein for human consumption. While some gastrointestinal and allergic discomforts have been reported, most agree there have rarely been adverse reactions. The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) has been working to convince the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to order all mycoprotein products off the market. At the very least, they recommend the relabeling of all the Quorn™ products as molds rather than their current status as fungi. There is some question as to the validity of the CSPI’s concerns because there are reported connections between the CSPI and some competitive meat substitute producer.
Those who consider mycoprotein a healthy, meat alternative view it as coming from the same family as mushrooms, truffles and morels. Like yeast, fusarium venenatum has been around for thousands of years and is considered natural and harmless. Advocates consider mycoprotein a safe food of the future. They subscribe that the only reactions reported were from a few who have sensitivities to all fungi.
All of the Quorn™ products have contributed greatly to the variety of meat substitute options available to vegetarians and those who have health and religious sensitivities. For those who cannot eat soy products, this has especially been a welcome addition. Some Quorn™ products do contain wheat, however, and may not be appropriate for people who have wheat or gluten allergies. With the growing preferences for vegetarian and food sensitive diets, the consensus has been that mycoprotein foods greatly enhance the vegetarian options. This protein source has been approved by the Vegetarian Society.