FDA Says Basic Food Flavors Knew Plant Was Contaminated With Salmonella

Publication: The Washington Post

Author: Lyndsey Layton

03/10/2010 - The company at the heart of a growing recall of processed foods knew that its plant was contaminated with salmonella but continued to make a flavoring and sell it to foodmakers around the country, according to inspectors at the Food and Drug Administration.

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, a potentially deadly bacterium, but they kept shipping their product to foodmakers, according to FDA inspection records.

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No one is thought to have fallen ill from contaminated HVP [hydrolyzed vegetable protein], and the health risk is considered to be low because most products containing HVP are cooked during processing or carry cooking instructions for consumers, so any salmonella probably would be destroyed before the food was eaten. Ready-to-eat products, such as chips and other snack foods, would carry greater risks.

"It highlights why we need strong rules that would prevent contamination in the first place, so the FDA isn't swooping in like the cops after the fact," said Erik Olson, director of chemical and food safety programs at Pew Charitable Trusts.

Read the full article FDA Says Basic Food Flavors Knew Plant Was Contaminated With Salmonella on the Washington Post's Web site.

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