Hydrolyzed vegetable protein is in a vast number of processed foods, including snack foods, gravy and dip mixes, frozen foods, soup mixes, sauces and sauce mixes ... the list goes on. Well, Basic Food Flavors, a maker of HVP, is guilty of selling salmonella-contaminated HVP to its customers--food processors who use the stuff as a flavor enhancer, among other things. Worse, records show that salmonella was found in Basic Food Flavors' HVP back in January! Yet nothing was done about it: the company continued to ship its products despite its own records showing contamination.
Not that we're surprised by this any more.
Via Marion Nestle's blog, here's an excerpt from the FDA's letter to Basic Food Flavors:
After receiving the first private laboratory analytical results (Certificate of Analysis dated 1/21/2010) indicating the presence of Salmonella in your facility, you continued to distribute paste and powder products until 2/15/2010. Furthermore, from 1/21/2010 to 2/20/2010, you continued to manufacture HVP paste and powder products under the same processing conditions that did not minimize microbial contamination.
The FDA further explains [my emphasis]:
The FDA then began discussions with Basic Food Flavors regarding the firm’s intentions to conduct a voluntary recall of the HVP the company had made, in both powder and paste form, manufactured on or after Sept. 17. On Feb. 26, 2010, Basic Food Flavors began notifying its customers that it was recalling all of the HVP product in powder and paste form made since Sept. 17.
Nestle's emphasis highlights the fact that the FDA does not have the power to recall tainted foods; instead, the company is supposed to recall its products voluntarily. Thus, for about a month, tainted products were knowingly distributed by Basic Food Flavors, and the recall itself wasn't announced until March 4.
At that time, 30-plus products were on the list. As of March 11, there are 153 products on the list. Go here for a list of recalled products, but keep in mind that more may surface (that's what usually happens with these things; remember the pet-food scandal?).
Nestle points out that other companies have now issued their own recalls:
The fallout from the recall is just beginning. Windsor Farms of Lampasas, Texas and Oakland, Mississippi is recalling 1.7 million pounds of ready-to-eat beef taquito and chicken quesadilla products+ containing HVP. Procter & Gamble is recalling Pringles Restaurant Cravers Cheeseburger potato crisps and Family Faves Taco Night potato crisps.
There's nothing in my pantry that might be contaminated, thanks to my somewhat paranoid label-reading, but most people have processed foods in their cupboards, freezer, and fridge and should check the recall list. Better yet, read the labels and toss out anything with HVP in it.
Another reason why I don't buy processed foods ...