Basic responsibility to provide safe products

Las Vegas-based Basic Food Flavors Inc., the company at the center of a recall of more than 100 food products containing its hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP), continued to make and distribute food ingredients for about a month after it learned salmonella was present at its processing facility, according to an FDA report, reports The Wall Street Journal.

Last week FDA lrecommended companies recall products, from chips to soups, that contain the additive, which is mixed into foods to give them a meaty flavor, and the recall of products using HVP from Basic continues to expand in the U.S. and Canada.

 

Although the company learned that salmonella was present at its processing facility on Jan. 21,  it (allegedly) distributed the ingredient until Feb. 15, according to the FDA's inspection report. After being alerted by a customer, the FDA inspected the plant for about two weeks starting in mid-February, and it found salmonella. It also found the company did not adequately clean equipment and store product properly to prevent contamination. 

 No illnesses have been reported related to the recall, said FDA spokeswoman Rita Chappelle, and the risk of people getting sick from products containing the HVP is low because the flavor enhancer generally makes up less than 1 percent of all the ingredients in a food. The FDA also said cooking some products before consuming them may kill the salmonella. 

 

If (and at this point, the question is if) the company continued distributing product when it knew salmonella was present, shame on it. Accidents are one thing; this would be irresponsible behavior. Food safety, at any cost, must be the No. 1 priority for anyone involved in providing food and ingredients.