Hydrolyzed vegetable protein paste -- now with more salmonella!

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Er, ew anyway

By Robyn Johnson

If you love hydrolyzed vegetable protein paste and/ or powder -- you know, that savory flavoring that is nearly ubiquitous in processed foods -- then you might want to check out this list just put out by the FDA. It's a growing product recall for possible salmonella contamination. 

Basic Food Flavors, the Nevada-based manufacturer of the bad-batch HPV in question, recently issued the recall and its extensive client list has begun to follow suit, including PepsiCo Inc., Pringles, Proctor and Gamble, and Nestle, (and a whole host to come). As of right now the FDA lists 149 products, with a wide range of foods from dressing mix to corn bread stuffing, but Business Week is reporting that the number could soon reach 10,000 -- making it the one of, if not the, largest recall of processed foods in history.

Before we panic, the same article also reports that the risk to the consumer is low considering most foods using HPV are cooked before consumption. No illnesses have been reported, but you still might want to hedge your bets and over-microwave those Jose Ole taquitos or refrain from eating ready to eat products, like Taco Night-flavored Pringles.

And while it’s all very fine and well that the consumer will probably not be subjected to mass salmonella-poisoning, people, including well-regarded people like Marion Nestle, are taking a very dim view that Basic Food Flavors waited approximately one month after FDA testing found the potentially fatal bacteria in their processing plant to issue the recall. Is it time to expand the FDA’s power in the face of a less than conscientious corporate food culture?

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