Be honest. How many of you had even heard of hydrolyzed vegetable protein until the Food and Drug Administration said salmonella found in a batch of the stuff was reason enough to recall all sorts of processed foods?
Turns out that HVP, as it's called in the trade, is a flavor enhancer that's produced by treating beans or grains with acid, breaking down their proteins into small tasty bits. The HVP, which can be a liquid, powder or paste, gets added to an incredible range of foods to make them taste more savory. Think soups, dips and snacks, for starters.
The FDA said some flavoring goop made by a company called Basic Food Flavors in Las Vegas was found to be contaminated with a strain of salmonella. Nobody has gotten sick as far as the FDA knows, but the agency said the risk of illness warrants recalls of food containing the tainted ingredient.
The ingredient is pervasive, if not well known. "I would say it's likely to be in thousands of food products," said FDA's Dr. Jenny Scott, according to CNN.
Unfortunately, the FDA said consumers can't rely on an ingredient list to know whether HVP is inside the food or not.
Some of the stuff you ought to pitch if it's in your kitchen: many Follow Your Heart brand foods, including quite a few tofu-based items, and some dips made by Reser's Fine Foods. For the full list, see this FDA database.