Mycoprotein (also known as fungal protein) is defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as "the albuminoid which is the principal constituent of the protoplasm of the cell." "Myco" is from the Greek word for "fungus".
A fungus called Fusarium venenatum is the main source of mycoprotein. The fungus is grown in vats using glucose syrup as food. A fermentation vat is filled with the growth medium, and then inoculated with the fungal spores. The Fusarium venenatum culture respires aerobically, so for it to grow at an optimum rate, it is supplied with oxygen, and carbon dioxide is drawn from the vat. To make protein, nitrogen (in the form of ammonia) is added, and vitamins and minerals are needed to support growth. The vat is kept at a constant temperature, also optimized for growth; the fungus can double its mass every five hours.
When the desired amount of mycoprotein has been created, the growth medium is drawn off from a tap at the bottom of the fermenter. The mycoprotein is separated and purified. It is a pale yellow solid with a faint taste of mushrooms. Different flavours and tastes can be added to the mycoprotein to add variety.
The protein is a form of single cell protein (SCP) and was first produced in the early 1980s.
About one in 140,000 consumers are sensitive to mycoproteins. The Center for Science in the Public Interest claims this may result in "vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, hives and potentially fatal anaphylactic reactions."
- Mycoprotein Story
- Hoff, M; Trüeb, RM; Ballmer-Weber, BK; Vieths, S; Wuethrich, B (2003). "Immediate-type hypersensitivity reaction to ingestion of mycoprotein (Quorn) in a patient allergic to molds caused by acidic ribosomal protein P2". The Journal of allergy and clinical immunology 111 (5): 1106–10. PMID 12743577.
- Katona, SJ; Kaminski, ER (2002). "Sensitivity to Quorn mycoprotein (Fusarium venenatum) in a mould allergic patient". Journal of clinical pathology 55 (11): 876–7. PMC 1769805. PMID 12401831.
- Chemical Cuisine: Learn about Food Additives, Center for Science in the Public Interest
- Wiebe, M.G. (2002). "Myco-protein from Fusarium venenatum: a well-established product for human consumption". Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology 58 (4): 421–7. doi:10.1007/s00253-002-0931-x. PMID 11954786.