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Center for Public Integrity Distorts The Facts, Misleads Readers About Quorn Foods

An April 14, 2015 item published by The Center for Public Integrity’s (CPI) Erin Quinn and Chris Young irresponsibly deceives readers by omitting the vast majority of facts, provided in advance by Quorn Foods, confirming the safety of our products – and the extensive regulatory review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in validating the safety of our foods.

To ensure readers have a complete and unfiltered presentation of the facts, and are not misled by CPI’s dishonest coverage of our company, we have posted the full text of our letter to CPI’s Erin Quinn, sent on April 7, 2015 by Sanjay Panchal, General Manager of Quorn Foods USA.
 

 

April 7, 2015

 

Ms. Erin Quinn

Center for Public Integrity

907 17th Street, NW #700

Washington, DC 20006

 

Dear Ms. Quinn,

Thank you for your inquiry regarding Quorn Foods.  For context, in recent years, there has been considerable misinformation about our meat alternative products that contain Mycoprotein as the principal ingredient. Based on the nature of some of your questions, it is critical your readers understand the facts, in their entirety – and are not deceived by inaccurate and unsubstantiated statements about our foods.  To this end, and to ensure the public has an objective and complete perspective about this issue, we trust the information below will be included in any story by your organization about our company:

The Safety of Mycoprotein Is Well-Established:  Since our founding in 1985, over three billion Quorn meals containing Mycoprotein have been sold in 16 countries around the world.  Millions of people have consumed Quorn, and many do so every day to maintain a sustainable protein-based, meat-free diet. Additionally, Quorn has been approved for sale by some of the world’s leading health agencies, including Health Canada (HC), the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) and Food Safety Australia New Zealand (FSANZ).  These facts are indisputable – and they must be thoughtfully considered when evaluating the integrity of the misleading claims that have been made about our products.

Quorn’s Safety Has Been Validated By the FDA: Unlike many substances that are determined to be Generally Recognized as Safe (“GRAS”) by private parties, with only a summary provided to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), all of the scientific data and information that establish the safety of Mycoprotein were submitted to and reviewed by FDA before Mycoprotein was determined to be GRAS.  It would be completely inaccurate and contrary to the facts to suggest, as one of your questions does, that FDA was not privy to and did not evaluate safety data on Mycoprotein.  The FDA reviewed extensive research about our products and concluded, correctly, that we successfully met the Agency’s GRAS standard. Additionally, all Quorn products are accurately labeled in accordance with FDA requirements.  As a company, we strive to be as transparent as possible regarding our labeling; not only are we fully compliant with FDA regulations, we exceed the Agency’s standards by providing additional language regarding the contents of our products.

CSPI’s Right to Its Opinions Doesn’t Include the Right to Be Taken Seriously: Per your question, we are not aware of multiple groups seeking to persuade the FDA to reexamine Mycoprotein. Rather, it is only the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) that has engaged in this manner. We do not understand the basis for CSPI’s attacks on Mycoprotein.  When considering that more than three billion Quorn meals have sold to date, the 2,000 or so adverse incident reports CSPI claims to have compiled are diminutive by comparison. Countless consumers around the world consume Mycoprotein daily because Quorn products are great-tasting, high-quality protein sources that appeal to consumers looking to limit meat in their diets.  What’s more, all of CSPI’s legal efforts challenging the safety of our products have failed – further evidence its accusations are meritless and lack any scientific credibility whatsoever.

As With All Protein Foods, Common Sense Must Prevail: We state publicly that those who have a particular sensitivity toward protein-based foods may be intolerant to Quorn. But claims by CSPI that our products are disproportionately allergenic are disingenuous and flat-out false. In fact, studies show our foods are dramatically less allergenic than many other foods on the market today, including dairy, nuts and shellfish.

The Claims In a Recent California Lawsuit Against Quorn Are Inaccurate: We at Quorn join families everywhere in expressing our deepest sympathy over the tragic passing of Miles Bengco in June 2013.  But we categorically reject the claims made by attorneys representing the Bengco family that our products were in any way associated with this unfortunate event.  The lawsuit omits or actively attempts to downplay several critical facts, including 1) the Medical Examiner’s conclusion that Miles died from an asthma attack 2) Miles suffered from “poorly controlled” asthma so severe it caused him to be hospitalized on at least 10 separate occasions prior to the attack that claimed his life and 3) Miles had not been receiving any of his asthma-maintenance medication one month prior to his death, and was placed on an “organic diet” in lieu of medicine.  The attempt to ameliorate this tragedy by way of a lawsuit against Quorn is misguided, and we will vigorously defend our company, and the safety of our products, against these allegations. 

It’s important these facts are clearly represented in any article involving Quorn Foods by the Center for Public Integrity (CPI). Readers expect CPI to uphold its obligations and publish balanced, responsible stories on the issues it covers.  And in this spirit, we trust CPI will give equal weight to the facts we have provided here.  Further, we ask, and expect, CPI will give us every opportunity to respond to any claim or characterization made about Quorn Foods in your story.  This will ensure readers have the benefit of both viewpoints, and can make informed conclusions based on the facts -- and are not unduly influenced by those who seek to mislead the public about our company and our products. 

Thank you

Sincerely,

Sanjay Panchal