Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein: What Is It?

Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein (HVP) has been in the news lately, and not in a positive light. The FDA has issued a recall of  processed food products containing HVP coming from Basic Food Flavors Inc of Las Vegas. A customer of Basic Food Flavors found that testing of a batch of HVP contains Salmonella Tennesse.

HVP is a salty and savory flavoring found in thousands of foods, including dips, sauces, soup mixes, chicken nuggets, hot dogs, tv dinners, chips, snack mixes, and pretzels. The products being recalled are those that are "ready to eat" instead of those you have to heat to eat. Many familiar brands have been involved in the recall, including:

T. Marzetti
Great Value
Jose Ole

Nearly 100 items have been recalled. and the list keeps growing. I highly recommend you go to www.foodsafety.gov to find a list of products that have been recalled. I found a couple dip mixes that were included in the recall that I had to throw out.

Also, the Mincing Overseas Spice Company has issued a recall of spices containing pepper under the Frontier and Whole Foods 365 brands. You can find a full list here.

A good thing that's come from this is now we are learning about the health concerns of eating foods containing HVP, Salmonella aside. HVP typically has MSG in it, and many people react badly to MSG, myself included. The problem is that both MSG and HVP are often listed simply as "natural flavors" or as something else completely, such as glutamate, glutamic acid, sodium caseinate, yeast extract, hydrolyzed plant protein, and many more. These chemicals are also in so many of the foods we eat at restaurants, from fast food to nicer places.

Remember to look at the ingredients of what you eat, especially if you are sensitive to certain ingredients. These foods are also heavily marketed to kids, and we just don't know how this stuff will affect them in the future.

Happy eating, and remember to keep food real!