See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil: who was Salmonella plant’s auditor?

More corporate douchebags who talk a good food safety game but could care less have been caught endangering people and losing huge piles of money for their owners.

The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post are reporting this morning that Basic Food Flavors Inc., the Las Vegas company at the center of a recall of more than 100 food products containing hydrolyzed vegetable protein, or HVP, continued to make and distribute food ingredients for about a month after it learned salmonella was present at its processing facility, according to a Food and Drug Administration report.

Managers at Basic Food Flavors of Las Vegas learned on Jan. 21 that samples taken a week earlier from their Nevada facility tested positive for salmonella, but they kept shipping their product to foodmakers, according to FDA inspection records.

The FDA last week recommended companies recall products, from chips to soups, that contain a commonly used additive made by Basic Food Flavors that tested positive for salmonella. The additive is mixed into foods to give them a meaty flavor.

FDA officials inspected Basic Food’s plant for about two weeks starting in mid-February and found the company didn’t adequately clean equipment and store foods to protect against the growth of contaminants such as salmonella, according to the inspection report.

The inspectors noted that "light-brown residue" and "dark-brown liquid" was observed on or around where Basic Food makes flavor-enhancing ingredients used in foods. The inspectors said brown residue was also found in a plastic pipe used in making food ingredients.

Basic Food makes a flavor enhancer called hydrolyzed vegetable protein, or HVP. The FDA report said the company first learned salmonella was present at its processing facility for HVP on Jan. 21. The company continued to distribute the ingredients until Feb. 15. A representative for the company wasn’t immediately available to comment. The company hasn’t responded to earlier requests for comment.

No illnesses have been reported related to the recall, said FDA spokeswoman Rita Chappelle.

But those who shipped out Salmonella-positive ingredients are still douchebags.

A list of affected products can be found at

Salmonella in veggie protein – the Canadian angle

I’ve already given Kevin Allen enough attention – the dude who really enjoyed himself too much while bouncing hockey pucks off my head – but he’s polite enough to give credit and he took my risk analysis course back in 1998 when he was a fledgling graduate student.

The course devotes a lot of time to food safety risk communication and Kevin, being a bright guy, thought, CBC is about to call and ask me about Salmonella in hydrolyzed vegetable protein, I’ll check in with Doug for some tips.

Kevin called, I told him to figure out what his couple of key messages were and hammer them home, cause TV and radio are relentless in their quest for simplicity, and the result is in the first couple of minutes in the video available at

Not bad, although his second soundbite may have had more Canadian credibility if he said, “as a father of two children and a hockey player (goon)” but who am I to quibble.

Canada, meet your newest food safety spokesthingy, from Belleville, Ontario, now plying at the University of British Columbia, Dr. Kevin Allen (above, right, exactly as shown).

Hydrolyzed vegetable protein – with Salmonella too

Don Schaffner (right, sorta as shown) is like, my microbiology god, so when he gets quoted in USA Today today, I say, Jersey, represent.

Four companies have recalled hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP), a common ingredient used most frequently as a flavor enhancer in many processed foods, including soups, sauces, chilis, stews, hot dogs, gravies, seasoned snack foods, dips and dressings, because of possible salmonella contamination since Feb. 26.

Two were announced Wednesday and one Thursday. Given the broad use of ingredient, more are likely to come.

Tests show that the product was contaminated with the Salmonella Tennessee bacteria.

Despite the fact that Basic Food Flavors’ recall goes back to Sept. 17, 2009, no illnesses have been linked to the specific strain found in the product, according to a Food and Drug Administration release.

The bad news is that HVP is such a widely used ingredient that many companies may end up having recall products. "We may see the ripple through the industry as people try to decide what their risk is and what to do about it," Schaffner says.

HVP, made from proteins in grains or soybeans, adds the meaty, savory taste found in cooked meats. It’s chemically similar to monosodium glutamate and is commonly used in snack products, soup bases and other processed foods.
So far, recalled foods listed by FDA include:

• French Dip Powdered Au Jus from Johnny’s Fine Foods of Tacoma, Wash.

• T. Marzetti brand Veggie Dips from Priority Brands of Markham, Ontario, distributed in Canada and the United States.

• Follow Your Heart Organic Creamy Ranch Dressing & Dip and vegetarian entrees from Earth Island of Chatsworth, Calif.

• Ranch House Dressing, Cheese and Bacon Dip and Redskin Potato salad from Reser’s Fine Foods of Beaverton, Ore.