To safely remove dangerous products from circulation, the FDA is currently working with food manufacturers, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services.
Synthesized flavors, like HVP, are used ubiquitously in food manufacturing, but do we really need additives like these to make that hot dog taste like a hot dog?
Jack Fastag, president of the Society of Flavor Chemists, said that without added flavorings, it would be impossible to preserve the type of consistency in taste that consumers have come to expect from brand label foods.
"It goes hand-in-hand with industrialization," he said. "Consumers expect that certain products will taste the same every time, but in reality, that's quite difficult to accomplish. Things will change from crop to crop, year to year."
With the development of flavor technology, this type of consistency is made possible, he said, and is now indispensible to food manufacturers.
The work of flavor chemists was not always as widely accepted, however.
At the turn of the century, flavor makers were often lampooned as "Adulterators, Food Poisoners, and Drug Dopesters" by politicians and newspapers, according to a history of the industry from the Flavor Extract Manufacturers Association (FEMA).
But as the convenience of processed, preserved foods became more popular, flavors and extracts were needed to restore the proper taste to foods when inherent flavors were lost during processing and the industry grew.
Today, the fruits of this multibillion-dollar industry can be found in most processed foods on grocery shelves, often under the simple title: "natural and artificial flavors."
This was the first flavor-related recall of this kind, Farrar said, and one that underscores the FDA's need for stronger regulatory tools in dealing with food safety.