There’s been a lot of chatter around food recalls this past week. Of particular interest is the March 4 recall of Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein (HVP), a by-product of breaking down protein (typically from soy, corn, or wheat) into its amino acids to use as a flavor enhancer in packaged foods. HVP is found in thousands of processed food products, including instant soups, hot dogs, veggie burgers, sauces, and gravies. A manufacturer of HVP, Basic Food Flavors out of Las Vegas, Nevada, detected salmonella in a batch of the product and reported to the FDA for investigation while continuing to ship its product. About one month later, the FDA announced the recall.
One month later.
While still no illnesses have been linked to this recall which includes over 100 products, it’s yet another symptom of a food safety system that needs serious rehabilitation. With the President committed to improving food safety in the U.S., the American public is waiting with baited breath. The current bill in Congress introduced in June 2009 would give the FDA more power over recalls and establish performance standards to prevent contaminants. There is another much more controversial bill introduced three months prior also making its way through Congress that would give the FDA a heavy-hand in inspecting facilities, ordering recalls and strict regulations. Criticized as a one-size fits all approach for food processors, it remains menacing for small farms where record keeping, testing and other measures may be difficult to comply with. Should small producers selling from their farm houses or traveling to weekly farmers markets be held to the same standards as industrial farms delivering to supermakets and wholesale chains nationwide? Continue reading