Quorn: What is it? Is it good for me? What do I do with it?

15 October 2014 by Charlie Stockford

Quorn is a leading global meat free brand with more than 150 products worldwide.  There are many other options such as soy protein, pea protein and amaranth but this blog focuses on Quorn and Quorn products.

What is Quorn? 

Well, it is made from Mycoprotein which is a protein source.  In the 1960s there were already concerns about the world’s population leading to food shortages and widespread famine.  The British Industrialist Lord Rank who was chairman of the Rank Hovis McDougall Group thought he should address this impending crisis.  The idea was to investigate the feasibility of creating a process that turned starch into protein using fermentation  in order to to create a protein source that was of a high nutritional value and that tasted good.  In 1967 they found an organism from a garden in Marlow in Buckinghamshire (yes, really!) called Fusarium venenatum, which was then renamed in 1974 as Mycoprotein.

How is it made?

The natural fungi Fusarium venenatum are put into a fermentation vat where they are fed glucose, oxygen, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, vitamins, minerals and other “secret” ingredients.  The vat is kept at a constant warm temperature to allow the fungi to grow (similar to yeast in rising bread).  Once the fungi reaches the desired size, egg and seasoning is added to the mixture which is then cooked, chopped and then frozen into a meat-free alternative product.

Statistics and is it good for me?

Quorn mince is 75% lower in fat and saturated fat than lean beef mince

Mycoprotein is cholesterol free and contains 4.8g of dietary fibre per 100g

Quorn products have been available in:

-          the UK since 1986

-          the USA since 2001

-          and Australia since 2010

In 1995 Kings College London and Imperial College London indicated that mycoprotein had a positive effect on blood sugar and insulin levels that may be able to benefit type 2 diabetics.

In 2003 CSPI collected 1700 complaints from consumers about symptoms experienced from eating Quorn

In 2003 Marlow Foods (Quorn distributor) provided statistics to show that 1 in 146000 people who consumed mycoprotein were prone to reactions compared to 1 in 35 who consumed soya.

The carbon footprint of Quorn Mince is 70% less than that of beef.

What do I do with it?

Quorn products have, for some people, the taste, appearance and texture of meat, be it chicken, mince, burgers or sausages.  As a mycoprotein product it is relatively tasteless when eaten on its own and is best used in curries, stews, casserole etc.  The pre made products such as burgers and sausages are a good alternative but as they are a highly processed product it is important to read the additional ingredients that are added.

In summary, Quorn or mycoprotein appears to be a good alternative to meat but reading the ingredient labels on more of the processed foods will specifically identify the “healthiness” of the product you are looking at eating. If Mo Farah eats it then it must be good!  You decide….

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