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". Mycoprotein is a form of single-cell protein and was first produced in the early 1980s.
Mycoprotein means protein from fungi. The main mycoprotein on sale in Europe and North America is called Quorn. It was originally developed as a food source to combat food shortages. All Quorn products contain mycoprotein derived from the fungus Fusarium venenatum. 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 F. 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 flavors and tastes can be added to the mycoprotein to add variety.
About one in 140,000 consumers is 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." For comparison, per 140,000 people, about 70 have allergic reactions to peanuts according to data from the National Health Service of the United Kingdom.
- Mycoprotein Story
- Yoder, W.T. & Christianson, LM (1998). Species-specific Primers Resolve Members Of Fusarium Section Fusarium. Taxonomic Status of the Edible "Quorn" Fungus Re-evaluated. Fungal Genetics & Biology, 23, 62-80.
- 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. doi:10.1067/mai.2003.1339. 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. doi:10.1136/jcp.55.11.876-a. PMC 1769805. PMID 12401831.
- Chemical Cuisine: Learn about Food Additives, Center for Science in the Public Interest
- "Study examines peanut allergies in England".
- 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.