Hydrolyzed vegetable protein is used as a flavor enhancer in processed foods such as soups, sauces, chili, stews, hot dogs, gravies, seasoned snack foods, dips and dressings. Basic Food Flavors Inc., Las Vegas, manufactured the HVP involved in the recall.
The F.D.A. on March 4 in the recall had identified the dip brands Follow Your Heart, Great Value, Johnny’s Fine Foods, Oak Lake Farms, and T. Marzetti; the dressing and dressing mix product brands Follow Your Heart and Trader Joe’s; the pre-packaged meal product brand Follow Your Heart; the snack and snack mix product brand Hawaiian; and the soup mix product brands Castella and Homemade Gourmet.
“At this time we believe the risk to consumers from this low-level ingredient widely dispersed in the food industry is very low,” said Jeffrey Farrar, associate commissioner for food protection in the F.D.A., during a March 4 media briefing.
In coordination with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, other federal agencies, and state health departments, the F.D.A. is monitoring and assessing the potential risk of illness from affected products.
“I want to stress at this point we are not aware of any human illnesses associated with this product (HVP),” said Ian Williams, acting chief for the outbreak response and prevention branch of the C.D.C.
The F.D.A. expects the recall process to continue for several days to several weeks.
“There are multiple consignees who sold this product to multiple sub-consignees,” Dr. Farrar said. “So the recall process may continue for some time.”
The F.D.A. expects a large number of the finished products with HVP to have received a kill step that would have eliminated the Salmonella, Dr. Farrar said. A manufacturer, food service establishment or consumer cooking a product would be an example of a kill step.
The F.D.A. found out about the Salmonella Tennessee outbreak through a Reportable Food Registry program it began last year. A Basic Food Flavors’ customer, which the F.D.A. declined to identify, found Salmonella Tennessee in one production lot of HVP and reported the finding through the Reportable Food Registry program.
The F.D.A. collected and analyzed samples at the facility and confirmed the presence of Salmonella Tennessee in the processing equipment of Basic Food Flavors. The company now is recalling all HVP in powder and paste form that it has produced since Sept. 17, 2009.