The processing facility that made the hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP) included in 177 separately recalled products earlier this year still has some explaining to do with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

In a June 23 warning letter to Nevada-based Basic Food Flavors Inc., FDA asked for documentation that corrective actions promised last March have in fact taken place.  

FDA’s last inspection at Basic Food Flavors, located in North Las Vegas, found multiple strains of Salmonella contamination and led to the recall of all powdered and paste HVP manufactured by the processor since Sept. 17, 2009.

When the HVP recall was announced by the nation’s top food safety officials in Washington D.C., there was concern that the common flavoring ingredient would lead to thousands of product recalls.   FDA, however, limited its enforcement to products that did not put the HVP through a “kill step,” and the number of products recalled has not risen above 177.

FDA’s warning letter, released Tuesday, does confirm that more strains of Salmonella were contaminating the processing facility.

“Laboratory analysis of these environmental samples (collected for testing) found Salmonella in nine separate subsamples,” the letter says.  “The positive subsamples were further serotyped and S. Tennessee, S. senftenberg, and S. westhampton were isolated from the environmental samples.”

“It was further determined that six of the subsamples to be S. Tennessee, the same stereotype with an indistinguishable Pulse-Field Gel Electrophoresis (PFGE) pattern isolated from the samples of finished product.” it added.

FDA said the Salmonella may have established a “niche environment” in the facility, causing the HVP to be adulterated under existing law and regulations.

Basic Food Flavors needs to eradicate the organism in its facility.  FDA asked for specific information on the corrective actions the company is taking to combat the pathogen so it cannot survive and grow.

FDA asked the company to respond in 15 days and promised that it would be back for another inspection to determine if the steps taken are adequate.