HVP on the Food Safety Radar

Published: 3 Apr 2010

By Sneha Pasricha

More than 150 products containing hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP) made by Basic Food Flavors Inc. have been recalled since early March 2010. With frequent news updates on brands and products on the recall list, HVP has been making headlines for obviously wrong reasons. This is the largest food safety scare (not in order of impact) next to the melamine contamination in infant formula, which hit the globe late last year. While the industry is adept at handling such situations effectively, the consumers, considered to be the "King" in the market, are left with a dilemma.

What Happened in this Case?

Recently in the United States, the issue of salmonella contamination of HVP came to light when one of the largest producers of HVP in the country, Las Vegas-based Basic Food Flavors Inc., was the focal point of a consumer safety warning announcement by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA discovered that salmonella, a potential pathogen, had been found contaminating Basic Food Flavors Inc.'s HVP production equipment. This followed with a nationwide recall initiated by the FDA for several foods containing HVP paste and powder distributed by the concerned manufacturer.

HVP, most likely extracted from soybeans, corn or wheat, is a flavor enhancer that is often blended with other spices to design seasonings for food products. It is used in a wide range of processed food products such as veggie burgers, gravy mixes, soups, sauces, stews, seasoned snacks, dips, and dressings to name a few. Hence, the authorities are encountering a grave situation, as the problem is faced by an extensive array of food applications.

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