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FDA investigates, advises disposal of tahini used by restaurants

Federal, state and local health authorities are investigating a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Concord illnesses linked to Karawan Tahini and Halva brand tahini, imported from Israel, which the U.S. has asked to be voluntarily recalled. Samples of the product tested by the FDA, New York State and New York City health officials found Salmonella in Karawan tahini, a news release said. 

The FDA has been in contact with the U.S. agent for the firm, as well as foreign public health partners. The label of the product that tested positive for Salmonella identified Brodt Zenatti Holdings LLC, of Jupiter, Florida as its importer. However, other importers may also have brought in Karawan Tahini and Halva-branded tahini. 

The FDA did not provide information about the number or severity of illnesses or the geographic areas of its distribution as it continues to investigate. The organization said, however, that the outbreak did not appear to be related to a previous outbreak also linked to tahini between 2018 and 2019. 

Tahini is a a sesame seed paste that is increasingly popular in restaurants that often use it in hummus, falafel and baba ganoush. Brands should review inventory to determine whether their store or stores are or have recently used either Karawan Tahini or El Karawan Tahini, which was sold in bulk to retailers and restaurants. It has a 2-year shelf life, but should not be eaten or served. Instead, the FDA said restaurants should throw out the product and sanitize any surfaces that may have come in contact with this tahini.

Salmonella Concord Salmonella are a group of bacteria that can cause gastrointestinal illness and fever called salmonellosis. Most of those infected get sick within 12 to 72 hours after infection and remain so for four to seven days, when they experience diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps. More severe cases of salmonellosis may include a high fever, aches, headaches, lethargy, a rash, blood in the urine or stool, and in some cases may become fatal. Children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to have severe salmonellosis infections.

Topics: Business Strategy and Profitability, Food Safety

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