O salmonella! FDA recalls hydrolyzed vegetable protein

Still from the unmade classic "Salmonella and You!" (Photo: Nasa.gov)

According to Wikipedia, salmonella is a form of bacteria that can cause serious illness in those with suppressed immune systems. Symptoms of infection include diarrhea and typhoid fever, and resulting dehydration can lead to death if left untreated. Thankfully, only 30 Americans die due to salmonella infection each year, although that is 30 too many. The FDA watches for cases of salmonella infection in products under their jurisdiction for just this reason, and they have found it in Hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP), a substance commonly used as a flavor enhancer.

Hydrolyzed vegetable protein is found in many products

According to MSNBC, the latest FDA recall of HVP affects a wide variety of food products, from soup to sauces, dips and dressings; chili, stew and gravy; to hot dogs and other seasoned snack foods. Stop me if you need a loan for healthier food. The salmonella Tennessee infection occurs somewhere along the production line in at a Las Vegas factory for Basic Food Flavors that has produced the flavor enhancer. The FDA is not currently aware of any human illnesses as a result of food from the plant, but they are taking proactive steps to prevent possible outbreak.

Basic Food Flavors? I’ll take the upgraded flavors, thanks

HVP is produced in powder and paste form at the Basic Food Flavors factory. The FDA has found salmonella Tennessee in samples dating back as far as September 17, 2009. It appears lucky that no illness has been reported, but the FDA is disturbed that this wasn’t caught earlier.

“This situation clearly underscores the need for new food safety legislation to equip FDA with the tools we need to prevent contamination,” Dr. Jeff Farrar of the FDA said to MSNBC.

What’s being done about already shipped HVP product?

The FDA is advising food manufacturers to destroy or “recondition” any product containing hydrolyzed vegetable protein from Basic Food Flavors. Meanwhile, investigations continue.

“We are proceeding with special studies to make sure foods containing those products are safe,” Farrar said. “We are working with food manufacturers and distributors to provide guidance on any products that will need to be recalled. We are also creating a Web page to find any recalled products that may be in their pantry.”

Watch for that Web page, folks

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