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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Consumer Advocacy Organization Says Fake Chicken Is Making People Sick

Posted by on Wed, Aug 20, 2014 at 2:59 PM

Presumably, these are made out of real chicken.
  • Joshua Resnick/Shutterstock
  • Presumably, these are made out of real chicken.
Grist's Nathanael Johnson reports that The Center for Science in the Public Interest wants frozen chicken substitute Quorn to be pulled from store shelves, citing two thousand incidents of "nausea, cramps, diarrhea, violent vomiting, and death" that they associate with Quorn products. Quorn has responded to these charges by saying that their product is made from a common fungus protein and that "Quorn products have been tested in numerous medical studies, and through decades of testing and statistics, all have proven that Quorn products are safe and much less likely to cause a reaction than soy, nuts or dairy."

I'm not a vegetarian, but I do love fake meats, and I prefer Quorn's fake chicken nuggets to store-bought frozen chicken nuggets. In the past, I've recommended Quorn to people who wanted to experiment with fake chicken; the texture is great, they're not too greasy, and they taste way better than flash-frozen meat. The fake meats I like best are all derived from fungi—there's a fake beef served at restaurants like In the Bowl that I'd take over real stir-fried beef any day—and I expected mushroom-derived faux-meats to grow in popularity as food becomes more scarce around the world and as consumers become more health conscious. Let's hope they get to the bottom of this issue soon—food supplies are hurting on a global scale and we need to develop some sustainable alternatives while there's still time.


Comments (18) RSS

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scary tyler moore 1
i've been eating quorn for years and never had any problems. how do we know this isn't a conspiracy by the chicken farmers of america?
Posted by scary tyler moore on August 20, 2014 at 3:21 PM · Report this
I'm no vegetarian either, but the fake meat at in the bowl is better than the real thing.
Posted by Chester Copperpot on August 20, 2014 at 3:28 PM · Report this
Ryan in the sky 3
Quorn has egg it it. Go Field Roast for full vegan fake meat and you're good.
Posted by Ryan in the sky on August 20, 2014 at 3:39 PM · Report this
Quorn is one of the most boring cardboard tasting alternatives out there, you shoul try Seitan (fermented wheat gluten), smoked Tempe or the various kinds of mock-duck, beef, chickem and pork good Chinese supermarkets have.
Also quorn is made by tivall which is heavily invested in settlements in occupied westbank in Palestine. Not cool.
Posted by dutchie on August 20, 2014 at 3:57 PM · Report this
CSPI has been on this bizarre crusade for several years. Not scientific and not in the public's interest. Somebody will react badly to most any food substance you can think of. Nothing to see here.
Posted by drawn on August 20, 2014 at 4:01 PM · Report this
CSPI's a bunch of crackpots. Ignore them. It's certainly conceivable that some bad practice went on that led to a bad batch that led to some people getting sick, but that's for the FDA to figure out.
Posted by GermanSausage on August 20, 2014 at 4:12 PM · Report this
" consumers become more health conscious."

See this is what I don't get. I'd bet you anything that a nice free-range, organic chicken is much better for you than over-processed vegetarian frankenfoods. I know real meat usually has about the same, if not fewer, calories.

And vegetarians are always ruining delicious vegetable dishes with gross squeaky fake meat.

I mean if you like it, that's fine. I like some gross processed frozen junk sometimes. But don't pretend it's good for you.
Posted by chi_type on August 20, 2014 at 4:12 PM · Report this
@5 The people who get the most sick from eating Quorn also seem to suffer from mold allergies... I don't eat/buy it so I'm not sure how clear the ingredient list is but properly labeled food is definitely in the public interest.
Posted by kanoxolom on August 20, 2014 at 4:15 PM · Report this
originalcinner 10
Quorn fake chicken is better than anyone else's fake chicken, but the best Quorn product is their fake lamb, which I've never been able to find in the US. I haven't been able to find any Quorn at all yet, down here in CA; it's all Morningstar Farms stuff, which is OK but Quorn is better.
Posted by originalcinner on August 20, 2014 at 4:32 PM · Report this
Reverse Polarity 11

If I want something that tastes like chicken, I'll buy an actual chicken. Not vegetarian franken-chicken. Not processed meat/filler mcnuggets. Real chicken. Chicken nuggets, regardless of what they are made from, are an abomination.
Posted by Reverse Polarity on August 20, 2014 at 4:39 PM · Report this
Man, I've really come to hate CSPI. You'd think they'd gain some humility after pushing for trans fats to replace saturated fats in packaged foods for years, then having to reverse that demand. But no - here they are, trying to completely eliminate a product not associated with any long-term health problems, and that I've eaten and enjoyed many times without any issues whatsoever.
Posted by Morosoph on August 20, 2014 at 5:29 PM · Report this
@11: Agreed. If you want to be a vegetarian, eat vegetables (and fruits, grains, beans, etc.). Fake meat is nastier than the real thing.
Posted by bigyaz on August 20, 2014 at 5:49 PM · Report this
Teslick 14
Well, somebody has to go here:
Posted by Teslick on August 20, 2014 at 8:51 PM · Report this
As mentioned by others, I completely don't get the impulse of some vegetarians to try to recreate meat. There is so much great vegetarian food out there. Make a pakora or a veggie lumpia if you want fried street food. Make some dhosa. There is just so much great inspiration out there for veggie food.
Soy burgers? Veggie dogs? Qorn?
Just say no.
Posted by Pol Pot on August 20, 2014 at 9:03 PM · Report this
Dude, those Quorn nuggets are good. My son's a vegetarian and I clean those off his plate if he doesn't.
Posted by snowbuffalo on August 20, 2014 at 10:07 PM · Report this
sperifera 17
The less processed foods you eat the better off you are. Quorn, QuikChik, Morningstar and all the other fake meats are so massively processed it makes gummi bears look homemade.
Posted by sperifera on August 20, 2014 at 10:27 PM · Report this
Laurence Ballard 19
You may be on to something. Vegetarian by choice for over 20 years. Spent considerable time in Japan and I am quite fond of fucha ryori--dishes using fungi, among other ingredients. Yet I avoid all Quorn's products not out of esthetics or politics--they're actually rather tasty--but for the acute digestive disruption in the hours following. Well before Quorn hit the markets, I acquired Coccidioidomycosis working in the desert SW and spent a full year on systemic anti-fungals. The legacy of the infection is a heightened sensitivity to molds and many types of fungi. Quorn's mycoprotein is really nothing but a highly processed industrial vat of Fusarium venenatum spore: mold. Shaped and further molded. Apparently I'm sensitive to microfungi from Buckinghamshire.
Quorn is a "mushroom-derived faux-meat" much like high fructose corn syrup is a "corn-derived faux-sugar".

Posted by Laurence Ballard on August 21, 2014 at 5:38 AM · Report this
Aurora Erratic 20
I've had trouble with fake meats causing nausea and vomiting, but only when I'm drinking alcohol as well. That sounds like a joke, but one beer is enough to do it.

Just tossing in the results of my very scientific survey, sample size one.
Posted by Aurora Erratic on August 21, 2014 at 6:12 AM · Report this

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