A current food recall for hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP) involves more than 100 products, yet suspected products may not be immediately evident to consumers.
When a single item is recalled, consumers can easily check the item and, if it is among those recalled, return or toss it, said Karen Blakeslee, a Kansas State University Research and Extension food scientist.
The HVP recall, in which a strain of salmonella bacteria has been detected, is different in that it involves a flavor enhancer (in a paste or powder form) that is added with other spices and seasonings to help enhance flavor in foods.
The enhancer is used in a variety of processed foods, including bouillon products, chili, dips, frozen dinners, hot dogs, gravy mixes, snack foods and mixes, salad dressings and dressing mixes, soups and soup mixes and stuffing.
Both national and store brands that will be familiar to Kansans are among the recalled products, said Blakeslee, who noted that the HVP product was manufactured in September 2009 and may already be in foods in the home, while others that have best-by dates that stretch well into 2010 and beyond could still be on the store shelves. The recall also includes some foods in institutional-sized packages used in food service.
To identify products affected by the recall, consumers should start at home by checking brand names and ingredient labels on processed foods to look for hydrolyzed vegetable protein that may be soy-, wheat-, corn- or cottonseed-based products.
Then, check the list of recalled products online at http://www.fda.gov/ForConsumers/ConsumerUpdates/ucm202968.htm or www.fda.gov (with a search for HVP recall) to see if the UPC codes and "best-by" dates match products involved in the recall.
If the products are among those recalled, they should be returned to the point of purchase. Grocery vendors should be aware of the recall and refund the purchase price (with or without a receipt).
While some foods may have been consumed without apparent illness, the recall is a reminder that we all need to know the symptoms of foodborne illness. Salmonella, which is a group of bacteria, may cause nausea, vomiting, fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), and/or abdominal cramps for four to seven days and up to several weeks after eating an infected food.
Drinking plenty of fluids and rest can be helpful, and seeking medical advice is recommended. Most healthy people will recover in four to seven days without treatment. The foodborne illness may, however, require treatment with an antibiotic, and can be more serious for children, whose immune system is not yet fully developed, and adults whose immune systems can be compromised by a chronic illness, chemotherapy or aging.
More information about food and food safety is available at local K-State Research and Extension offices and online at www.ksre.ksu.edu/foodsafety, which Blakeslee maintains.
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