Remember when we told you that a little-known but widely-used food flavoring called HVP was causing a mess of recalls because of salmonella contamination?
Well, now it turns out that the Las Vegas-based company that produces the stuff knew about the contamination for weeks before the Food and Drug Administration cajoled them to issue a recall.
Basic Food Flavors learned that samples taken from their Nevada facility tested positive for salmonella, as early as mid-January, but they kept shipping the flavoring to foodmakers, as the Washington Post explains.
The FDA reported that private lab tests came back positive for salmonella on Jan. 21, 2010, but the plant continued to make and distribute HVP products until Feb. 15, under the same processing conditions. The company didn't immediately respond to NPR's request for comment.
NYU food guru and author of What to Eat , Marion Nestle, called the situation a "food safety scandal" yesterday on her blog, Food Politics.
Luckily, no one seems to have gotten sick yet. Or at least they haven't reported it. This could be because there's very little HPV in most products containing the additive, or the salmonella may have been killed in processessing.
But Nestle took this case as further evidence that the FDA's powers need to be increased--currently, they don't have the authority to actually recall foods, but can only pressure companies into making their own "voluntary" recalls.
"Do we need more evidence that the FDA needs the authority to order recalls?" Nestle asked. "And when is Congress going to get around to passing the food safety bill?"
The food safety bill in question passed in the House months ago, but is stalled in the Senate.
You can check out a complete list of recalled products at the FDA's food safety site.
And, since the recall also affects Canada, you can find a list of recalled items from our neighbor to the North here.