FDA Expects Recall of Popular Foods to Grow

by Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Staff Journalist

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced yesterday that the recall of popular food products containing salmonella-infected hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP), which includes foods from Pringles to Herr’s Potato chips, is likely to expand.

A report appearing on MyFoxNY.com says the “flavor enhancer” supplied by the Las Vegas-based Basic Food Flavors was found to be contaminated with salmonella. The FDA says the company continued to manufacture and ship HVP even after its own tests found evidence of contamination by an organism known to cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people.
 
The reason why this recall could become enormous is because HVP is used in thousands of products such as soups, cheese, sauces, chillis, salad dressings, hot dogs, frozen dinners, snack foods and dips. Popular items such as Pringles, Herr’s Potato Chips, Herbox bouillion cubes, and Quaker snack mixes are also on the list of potentially contaminated products.

The good news is that the problem was discovered before anyone became sick.

“Our investigators were able to identify this problem before any illnesses occurred,” said FDA commissioner Dr. Margaret A. Hamburg.

“While the investigation is continuing, the agency is supporting reasonable steps to continue to protect the public health.”

The FDA conducted an investigation of the Las Vegas facility after a customer reported finding salmonella in one production lot of HVP. Inspectors collected and analyzed samples at the facility and confirmed the presence of salmonella in the company’s processing equipment. They also found problems with the cleaning and sanitizing procedures of equipment and work areas where food meant for human consumption was processed, as well as plumbing and drainage issues.

Basic Food Flavors is recalling all hydrolyzed vegetable protein in powder and paste form that it produced since Sept. 17, 2009.

Healthy people infected with salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Most healthy people recover from salmonella infections within four to seven days without treatment. In rare circumstances, infection with salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses.

The FDA says the chances of a consumer getting sick are small because the foods are generally cooked before they are packaged. 

For a list of potentially contaminated products, visit http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/HVPCP/

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