The extremely common flavor enhancer HVP – from Basic Food Flavors’ Las Vegas, Nevada plant – was recalled last week when the company learned the ingredient could be contaminated with salmonella. The contamination was unearthed by Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspectors, who found salmonella bacteria on processing equipment at the plant. They were alerted to the possibility of contamination through its online Reportable Food Registry, after a Basic Food Flavors customer found salmonella in HVP through routine testing.
The products that have been recalled in Canada are ready-to-eat snack products, such as chips and dips, which incorporate HVP but which might not be cooked prior to consumption. Cooking can be a kill step for salmonella, leading the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to say that the risk of illness associated with the recalled HVP is low, because most of the foods to which it is added would be cooked before they hit the marketplace. But some of the recalled products, such as powdered soups, are often eaten raw, as consumers commonly mix them with sour cream or yogurt to serve as a dip.
At this stage, there have been no reported illnesses in Canada or the US linked to the recalled HVP.
A full list of the products recalled in Canada so far can be found here. The list also includes two products that were not manufactured in Canada, but were made in the US and distributed in Canada.
In a conference call with journalists late last week, the FDA said that it could not speculate about how big the recall could become, but that it has the potential to be very large, as the ingredient is so widely used.
It is thought the recall could be extremely widespread because HVP is such a ubiquitous ingredient, sometimes sold to manufacturers of flavorings and other base products, which are then repackaged under different brand names, and sold on to food manufacturers. The ingredient is used in thousands of products, including soups, sauces, frozen dinners, cheese, hotdogs, dips and seasoned snacks.
An initial 56 products were included in company recalls immediately following discovery of salmonella at Basic Food Flavors. The FDA’s recall list has now expanded to include more than 100 items.
A list of HVP products affected by the recall can be found here.