Ten months after the beginning of the first confirmed illness in a Salmonella Concord outbreak traced to tahini, the CDC has declared the outbreak over. However, there is a good chance some consumers are unaware of several tahini recalls, leaving them susceptible.
“This outbreak appears to be over, but recalled tahini products have a long shelf life and may still be in people’s homes. Consumers unaware of the recall could continue to eat these products and potentially get sick,” according to an outbreak update posted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Even if some tahini was eaten and no one got sick, do not eat it. … Some recalled products may not have dates or may have labels written in Hebrew. If you do not know whether the tahini product has been recalled, do not eat it and throw it away.”
The Food and Drug Administration has been working with the CDC on the outbreak investigation and continues to warn people against eating certain tahini products. The agency has renewed its tahini warning to food businesses.
“Firms that may have used the recalled tahini — either repacked or used as an ingredient in a food without a kill step — should consider recalling their products. Recalls should be reported to your local FDA office,” according to an investigation update posted about an hour after the CDC’s update Wednesday.
Both the CDC and the FDA reiterated Wednesday that consumers should not eat recalled Achva, Achdut, Soom, S&F, Baron’s and Pepperwood brand tahini and Soom brand Chocolate Sweet Tahini Halva Spread. Specific products subject to recalls, and labeling information consumers can use to identify them, are available on the FDA’s website. The products have expiration dates beginning in April 2020 and running through May 2021.
Early in the outbreak investigation, officials from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene collected records and food samples at a restaurant where ill people ate. The outbreak strain was isolated in samples of tahini. Records indicated that the tahini used at the restaurant was Achva brand tahini manufactured by Achdut Ltd.
Also, the FDA found Salmonella Concord in a sample of tahini collected at the point of import. The tahini was Baron’s brand manufactured by Achdut Ltd.
“Whole genome sequencing (WGS) results showed that the Salmonella strain identified in imported tahini was closely related genetically to the Salmonella strain identified in ill people and from tahini samples collected at a restaurant where ill people ate. These results provide more evidence that people in this outbreak got sick from eating tahini products from Achdut Ltd.,” according to the CDC’s outbreak update.
The CDC reported eight people from four states were confirmed with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Concord. Hawaii, Massachusetts and Michigan each reported one patient. New York reported five. Patients’ illnesses started on dates ranging from April 21, 2018, to Jan. 3 this year. Ill people ranged in age from 14 to 52 years, with 63 percent of them male. No hospitalizations or deaths were reported to the CDC.
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