Salmonella Contamination Prompts FDA Food Recall

Patients seeking OTC remedies for gastrointestinal distress may be suffering from an infection of Salmonella, according to a press release issued yesterday by the FDA. The agency has identified widespread contamination of hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP), a common flavor enhancer used in many processed foods.

The affected product is manufactured by Basic Food Flavors in Las Vegas, Nevada, and is used in a variety of salad dressings, dips, soups and soup mixes, and pre-packaged meals carried by major retail drug stores and supermarket chains. After a customer reported finding Salmonella in a batch of the additive last month, the FDA launched an investigation of the facility and discovered the presence of bacteria on the company’s processing equipment, confirming the contamination.

No illnesses have been reported yet, but the ubiquity of the additive has prompted a recall of all known products containing HVP paste and powder manufactured by Basic Food Flavors since September of 2009. A complete list of products to avoid is available on the FDA’s Web site, and includes salad dressings from Trader Joe’s and T. Marzetti, as well as a line of tofu-based dinners from Follow Your Heart.

The FDA is recommending that recalled HVP should be destroyed, and that consumers follow cooking instructions for all foods and report any symptoms, such as fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain, to a local health care professional. In most cases, Salmonella infections disappear on their own within 4 to 7 days; however, the symptoms can be treated with OTC medications designed to relieve stomach upset.