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Data from US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 14 July 2001. Nutrient Data Laboratory (http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp) and P. Collins, Marlow Foods, UK.

Data from US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service. USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 14 July 2001. Nutrient Data Laboratory (http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp) and P. Collins, Marlow Foods, UK.

its approval were especially thorough, lasting ten years. Human trials involved 2500 people with no adverse effects. The mycoprotein product is approved for consumption in the European Union. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is currently in the process of publishing an official response to the Full Food Additive Petition submitted by the manufacturers. This response will be made public in 2002 (FDA, http://www.fda.gov, GRAS Notice No. GRN 000091). Products containing mycoprotein have been on sale in the United States since January 2002.

2.1.3 Nucleic Acid Content

Nucleic acids are a necessary component of all cells, and are found in relatively high levels in rapidly dividing cells. Thus, the nucleic acid content of yeast (around 10% of dry weight) is approximately five times greater than in the average mammalian organ. When nucleic acids are ingested, they are first attacked in the duodenum by pancreatic nuclease. The resulting nucleotides are then attacked by nucleotidases in the intestine, resulting in nucleosides and phosphate. These in turn are further degraded to purine and pyrimidine bases. The degradation of purine bases in man results in the production of uric acid. Accumulation of uric acid beyond the excretion capacity of the kidney results in the formation of crystalline deposits in the joints and soft tissues, leading to goutlike manifestations and calculi in the urinary tract. Pyrimidines are degraded to orotic acid, the accumulation of which results in liver damage. The administration of foods of microbial origin is limited by the amount of nucleic acid contained within. The administration of 130 g of yeast daily for one week results in uric acid levels ranging between 4.8 and 8.3mg/100ml in human volunteers. Normal plasma levels of uric acid range between 2 and 7mg/100ml in males (Riviere 1977).

Quorn mycoprotein is obtained from a filamentous fungus which proliferates at slower rate than yeast (Trinci 1994; Ugalde and Castrillo 2002). Thus, the starting nucleic acid content subject to removal is also slightly lower (8-9%). The RNA content reduction of mycoprotein is further effected by a heat shock treatment that will be described below [see section "Mycoprotein production (Quorn products")]. RNA levels are thus reduced well below the levels which limit consumption to 100 g per day per person (2% of dry weight), although this treatment also results in important losses in dry weight (Trinci 1992).

2.1.4 Texture

Another favorable feature which differentiates Quorn products is the advantage taken from the filamentous nature of the microorganism in product design. Fusarium venenatum A3/5 filaments are aligned in parallel by a specially designed mechanical process which renders the product a texture very similar to that of meat fibers once set in a light matrix of egg white protein and heated. The final product has a bland taste, light color which renders it susceptible to the addition of flavoring and coloring agents (Anderson et al. 1975).

2.1.5 Additional Functionalities

In addition to the nutritional effects, consumption of mycoprotein under both controlled and free-living studies has been shown to beneficially reduce total and low density lipoprotein (LDL) serum cholesterol levels. Studies by Homma et al. (1995), Turnbull et al. (1992), Udall et al. (1984) incorporating realistic amounts of the product concluded that mycoprotein consumption has a beneficial effect in serum lipid variables. Post-meal glycemia has been shown to be reduced after consumption of mycoprotein, by 13% with respect to controls. On the other hand, insulinemia is reduced by 19% thirty minutes after ingestion (Turnbull and Ward 1995). Finally, a mycoprotein lunch has a significant effect on the sensation of satiety, in ways that would help control the appetite of dieting patients, as proposed by Burley et al. (1993), Turnbull et al. (1993).

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