Officials are continuing to investigate a Salmonella outbreak traced to tahini, with a Florida importer concurrently expanding a recall to include another brand of the sesame seed paste. Scant details are available on the recalled products.

Brodt Zenatti Holdings LLC of Jupiter, FL, expanded its recall on Monday to include SoCo branded tahini in 135-ounce containers. The Food and Drug Administration did not post the company’s recall notice until Thursday, in keeping with its policy to delay posting notices about voluntary recalls until companies publish such notices elsewhere first.

“This product is being recalled in addition to retail and bulk Karawan brand tahini sold in 16-ounce jars and 39-pound buckets,” according to the recall notice posted yesterday. Another brand, El-Karawan Tahini, may also be linked to the outbreak. 

The notice on the Karawan brand said tahini imported by Brodt Zenatti Holdings prior to December 2018 and until the final shipment April 2019 is subject to recall. Halva brand tahini is also linked to the current outbreak, according to information posted by the FDA.

As with other tahini products recalled in relation to the ongoing outbreak of Salmonella Concord, the SoCo brand has a shelf life of up to two years. Public health officials at the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention renewed their public alerts Thursday about the recalled products. They are urging consumers, restaurant owners, other foodservice kitchen operators, and retailers to check to see if they have the recalled tahini on hand.

“Consumers with this tahini in their home should not eat it and should discard it. Consumers with concerns about tahini consumed outside the home should ask their restaurant or retailer if the product they have purchased contains this tahini,” according to the recall. 

“Retailers and restaurants should throw the recalled product out and sanitize any surfaces that may have come in contact with this tahini.”

Brodt Zenatti Holdings did not include distribution information in the recall notice regarding the SoCo brand tahini. Other than the brand name and the 135-ounce container size, the SoCo recall does not include any label information to help consumers or businesses determine whether they have the implicated tahini on hand. 

The recalled tahini was sold in bulk to retailers and restaurants and was also available to consumers at retail locations and online, according to the recall notice posted by the FDA on May 23. It may have also been used in other food products sold to consumers. 

In its May 15 recall of Karawan brand Tahini, Brodt Zenatti Holdings reported it directly distributed that product to New York and Texas. “We currently know that distributors have thereafter shipped the product to Massachusetts and Virginia,” according to Karawan recall notice.

CDC says additional illnesses could be confirmed
The CDC updated its outbreak report on May 23 to include the SoCo recall information. The agency did not report any additional confirmed patients yesterday. 

In its May 17 outbreak notice, the CDC reported four people aged 8 to 32 years old had been confirmed with infections from a strain of Salmonella Concord that has been isolated from tahini imported by Brodt Zenatti Holdings. 

One of the patients had to be admitted to a hospital. No deaths had been confirmed as of May 14, according to the CDC. Two patients have been identified in New York, with Massachusetts and Texas each having one confirmed patient. Additional patients might not yet be reported to the CDC because of the time it takes between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is laboratory confirmed and logged with the CDC. This can take four weeks or more. 

“Investigators with the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene collected records and food samples at restaurants where ill people ate. Records indicated that the tahini used at these restaurants was Karawan brand tahini. The outbreak strain was isolated from opened and sealed containers of Karawan brand tahini collected at one of the restaurants,” according to the CDC.

Tahini’s recent track record
The investigation into the current Salmonella Concord outbreak is ongoing, but at this time the current outbreak does not appear to be related to a 2018-2019 outbreak of Salmonella Concord that was also linked to imported tahini.

Several tahini products have been recalled this year and in 2018 because of contamination and/or implication in foodborne illness outbreaks. Recalls and related outbreak updates in recent months have included

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