Food product recall jumps by 1.7M pounds over salmonella fears

The recall of products containing a potentially salmonella-tainted flavoring ingredient ballooned this week with the addition of 1.7 million pounds of ready-to-eat beef taquito and chicken quesadilla products from a Houston firm.

Ruiz Foods of Denison, Texas, also recalled 115,700 pounds of Tornados Ranchero Beef & Cheese roll-ups.

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All the recalled products contained hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP). That is an MSG-like flavor enhancer made by Basic Food Flavors of North Las Vegas, Nev., which on March 4 announced a recall of its entire production dating to Feb. 17, 2009. The company has declined to comment.

To date, 105 products containing the ingredient have been recalled, including bouillons, dip mixes, salad dressings, gravy mixes, snacks, soups and ready-to-eat foods. The Food and Drug Administration is continuously updating the recall list at www.foodsafety.gov.

An inspection report released by the FDA this week said Basic Food Flavors knew its plant and product were contaminated with salmonella tennessee as early as Jan 21. But despite that, “you continued to distribute HVP paste and powder products until 2/15/2010,” the FDA report said.

Numerous problems were cited:

•The company told FDA inspectors that equipment was cleaned and ready to be used for production, but it had residue and liquid on it.

•Inspectors observed “standing, grey/black” liquid “in a drain near where the product was made. Inspectors stated that “we sensed an odor in the vicinity of this drain.”

So far, no illnesses have been associated with recalled products, the FDA says.

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