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Gardenburger Takes A Stand Against Deceptive Labeling

The official “missionaries of meatless” assert consumers are misled about mycoprotein

Portland, Ore. — Gardenburger Authentic Foods Company, the pioneers of meatless eating, are petitioning the Food and Drug Administration to regulate the labeling of mycoprotein, a new food recently approved as safe in the United States. The company using the new food, Quorn Foods Inc., wants to claim that its products are “mushroom based” or “mushroom in origin.” The actual ingredient, a Fusarium venenatum fungus, is more commonly referred to as mold.

“Gardenburger is concerned that consumers don’t know the truth. After extensive consumer research and discussion with scientific experts, we feel that this labeling is misleading, and could potentially damage those who legitimately use mushrooms in their products,” said Scott Wallace, Gardenburger CEO.

Demonstrating the breadth of concern across the industry, mushroom growers/processors Giorgio Food Inc. and the American Mushroom Institute have written letters in support of Gardenburger’s petition. In addition, the Center for Science in the Pubic Interest has filed a complaint with the FDA against the maker of the Quorn-brand line.

Roper Study Confirms Labeling is Misleading

According to a study conducted by Roper ASW, six out of 10 American consumers polled believed that a product described as “mushroom in origin” would contain actual stems and caps of mushrooms. In addition, almost twice as many people were interested in purchasing the product described as “mushroom in origin” versus those who were told it was derived from a fungus.

Two mycology experts, David M. Geiser, Ph.D. and Gretchen A. Kuldau, Ph.D of Penn State University claim that “Fusarium venenatum is not a mushroom in any way, shape or form. It would be more accurately described as a ‘mold.’ Calling it a mushroom is analogous to calling a rat a chicken because both are animals.”

About Gardenburger, official “missionaries of meatless” Founded in 1985, Gardenburger Inc. pioneered the original meatless patty, and has been pushing the meatless category to new levels ever since. An independent company, Gardenburger’s vision is to promote pure food and a healthy environment. From the classic, grain-based Gardenburger Original to the groundbreaking barbeque Riblets, the company distributes its meatless products to more than 35,000 foodservice outlets throughout the United States and Canada. Retail customers include more than 30,000 grocery, natural food and club stores. Based in Portland, Ore., the company employs approximately 185 people.

Study Methodology

The data resulted from a study conducted by Roper ASW. Telephone interviews were conducted among a nationally representative sample of 1,032 adults, using random digit dialing. Data has been weighted to correct for any sampling imbalances by four variables: age, sex, geographic region, and race, to ensure reliable and accurate representation of the total population. The margin of error for the total sample is +/- 4 percentage points at the 95 percent confidence level. The survey was fielded from March 1 to March 3, 2002.

About Roper ASW

Roper ASW, a NOP World company, is the merger of two of the world’s leading market research and consulting firms – Roper Starch Worldwide and Audits & Surveys Worldwide. Flagship services include Roper Reports trend research, the annual Global Consumers Survey of 30 countries, and the FORTUNE/Roper Corporate Reputation Index.

*A copy of the Roper ASW study is available at

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