The Centre for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) says that Quorn is highly allergenic. Is this true?
No it is not, and this is backed up by CSPI’s own data.
CSPI has been relentless in misleading the public on this point since 2002, and unsurprisingly has received no support from the scientific and nutritional communities. Unsurprising because Quorn has sold over 5 billion servings since launching in 1985, and so it would be very evident for healthcare professional and indeed consumers if CSPI claim was even vaguely true.
CSPI set up a website in 2002 to gather instances of allergic reactions to Quorn, and 312 were reported in the following 16 years. This pretty matches the data we gather via the Quorn Foods Consumer Services team, and represents approximately one allergic reaction in every 24 million servings of Quorn. Presenting at the American Society for Nutrition annual conference, June 2018, Dr Steve Taylor, Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Food Allergy Research and Resource Program at The Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, stated “Quorn is, in my expert opinion, safer than many other sources of protein on the basis of very low prevalence of allergic reaction complaints.”
CSPI has also been caught out misrepresenting the findings of its own research firm to promote their completely unfounded assertion about Quorn:
- TNS Intersearch – a highly regarded global research firm hired by CSPI in 2003 to gather public opinion data about allergic reactions to Quorn and other foods – stated its results had been “represented inaccurately” by CSPI.
- In a sharply worded letter to CSPI, TNS stated CSPI’s characterizations did “not accurately reflect the findings of [its] research.”
- TNS noted the data it compiled on Quorn was based on a sample purely of Quorn eaters. But CSPI incorrectly publicized them based on a sample of the general population. In doing so, CSPI irresponsibly inflated the statistics and created the false impression of a substantially higher allergenic response for Quorn products.
- TNS’s letter noted that CSPI’s press release headline was “factually incorrect,” and scolded CSPI’s Founder, Michael Jacobson, stating “[Y]ou were, clearly, not comparing like for like data” and that TNS did “not endorse the statements made by you. …”. Click here to read the letter from TNS.
We are clear in stating those who may be sensitive to high-protein foods may be intolerant to Quorn, and there are very rare instances of allergic reaction. But Quorn foods are proven to be far less allergenic than shellfish, nuts, soy and dairy. To suggest, as CSPI does, that Quorn products are highly allergenic is both irresponsible and deceptive.