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Friday, March 19, 2010

HVP Basic Foods Recall

Since we are on the topic of health, I would like to mention the Basic Foods HVP recall. This will affect thousands of foods, so the best course right now is to check the labeling to see if it lists hydrolyzed vegetable protein as an ingredient, and don't use it if it does.

Some lots of the HVP distributed by Basic Foods contained salmonella, which can make you very ill indeed. If you have ever had salmonella poisoning, you may get a mild gastric upset just from eating contaminated product even if all the bacteria is dead (you get an immune reaction to the proteins in the killed bacteria). Contaminated products may also contaminate your kitchen, causing cross-contamination. For example, some of these spice mixes might get on a cutting board, and then your salad might be contaminated. So your best course to check the recalls and get rid of all products known to be contaminated (you can get refunds), but hold all those that are in similar categories. Also clean your kitchen well consistently.

The best list I have found is here. This does not cover all or even most of the products, but it will give you an idea of the types of products affected. Just throw them out or take them back. I had had suspicions about my Herbox no-salt bouillon, because both the Chief and I had gotten mild stomachaches from it. Sure enough, it is on the list.

Recalls.gov will list all the recalled products as they come out. However you should be aware that many of the companies that have foods with the contaminated product may not know themselves yet; the companies that used the HVP in their products and have been notified are notifying their downstream companies, who then check their records and issue the recall.

I once got salmonella from peanut butter (contaminated plants, yes indeed), and it was an extremely unpleasant experience.

There is one category of foods that I don't see on the list that I strongly suspect are contaminated, and that is tuna packed in water. Much of it is processed with a vegetable-type broth which probably contains HVP. I eat very little in the way of prepared foods, but eating canned tuna made me sick just like the Herbox bouillon, only much more sick. Of course, I cooked the soup in which I used the bouillon very thoroughly.....

There is also (this is not that funny, is it?) another food that is causing wide-spread recalls, and that is black pepper. Some pepper is believed to be contaminated, but was distributed to various food companies.

Women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant are particularly at risk. It's likely that many frozen prepared foods have some HVP in them, and especially if you microwave it, the food may not be heated well enough to kill all the bacteria. If there was an interim cooking process, the bacteria may already be killed, and it is probably a minor ingredient. Nonetheless, there is some risk.

This is the FDA recall RSS feed.

This listing on a forum might be updated and is pretty comprehensive. But there should be hundreds of recalled products by the time we're done.

Thanks very much for the PSA, M_O_M. I'm feeling quite virtuous about not using many prepared foods in our house, but I just called my pregnant wife and told her to lay off the Frito-Lays until she checks for HVP in the ingredients.

Fortunately, when she gets cravings, it's usually for bacon and ice cream.
Thank you all for your prayers and good wishes.The new Antibiotic is doing the job and it looks like I have the infection licked.And MoM,the list is valuable despite the fact that I very seldom eat prepared foods.I have forwarded it to several people.I love good food and can generally eat much better than I can at most restaurants for a fraction of the cost.
Tom - DON'T ASSUME. Be very cautious. I am extremely happy and relieved at your improvement, but this already came back once.

Thanks for the update, though. Sorry for the hysteria.

I rarely eat prepared foods, but there were a couple things on this list like the bouillon. I just shook my head and thought "what next"?

Neil - it does seem like a lot of snack foods are in there! Congrats on the pregnant wife. Get her all the bacon and ice cream she wants (within reason). I guess bacon and ice cream are the new health foods. Vegetables and all that are out.
M_O_M, I've never trusted vegetables. They're so sneaky, the way they grow up out of the ground and all. Being of German extraction, I only trust the stuff after it's been pickled, brined, or otherwise adulterated by strong chemicals.

Annnnyway, thanks! My wife swears it's a boy and that's why she keeps craving hamburgers (for the red meat). With pickles, of course.
Thank you for the reminder Mom,although I am pleased at the improvement I am being careful to follow the protocol for MRSA and am not taking anything for granted.I had no idea how common it had become,it behooves anyone who gardens to become familiar with the symptoms and get PROMPT care,it moves very fast.
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