FUNGUS FOOD MAKER ACCUSED OF 'DECEPTIVE LABELING'

Consumer Group Files Complaint With FDA

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CINCINNATI (AdAge.com) -- A consumer group is accusing the marketer of a fungus-based meat substitute of "deceptive labeling" and has filed a complaint with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

The Center for Science in the Public Interest took issue with the label claims of Quorn, a meatless product being marketed by AstraZeneca's Marlow Foods division. The group said the label, which claims Quorn is "mushroom-based," is misleading because the product is derived from a novel fungal mycoprotein that does not come from a mushroom.

Allergy issue raised
The group also complained that Quorn's application for FDA approval, which was granted earlier this year, did not test for the possibility the fungal protein could produce allergies.

Quorn, billed by

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The product has been marketed for several years in Europe, where it has amassed a $150 million business.

Quorn Foods Vice President and General Manager David Wilson said he was disappointed by the complaint, noting that CSPI itself had listed Quorn as a "Best Bite" in its March issue.

'Mushroom in origin'?
He said Quorn's label lists the meat substitute as a mycoprotein, which means fungal protein, though an asterisk explains mycoprotein as "mushroom in origin."

Mr. Wilson added that 20 years of sales in Europe showed no documented case of allergic reactions, though there had been some incidents he described as "intolerance" for the product.

CSPI Executive Director Michael Jacobsen said the FDA often takes years to act on such complaints, but may act sooner in this case.

"I'm not holding my breath," he said in an e-mail, "but the deception in this case is so blatant that I wouldn't be surprised if the FDA acted."

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