An importer in Florida has posted a recall of consumer sized jars and bulk buckets of Karawan brand tahini following an FDA public alert yesterday that reported New York inspectors found Salmonella contamination in samples of the product.

The recalled tahini is linked to a Salmonella Concord outbreak that has sickened people in at least three states, according to the alert issued May 15 by the Food and Drug Administration. In that alert federal officials said they had “requested” that the product be recalled.

Public health officials are concerned that consumers, restaurants and other entities may have the recalled tahini products on hand. The products have expiration dates two years from the date of production, raising additional concerns that people may have the product on shelves in homes and commercial kitchens and not know about the recall.

The four outbreak patients confirmed as of May 15 live in New York, Massachusetts and Texas. One person has required hospitalization. No deaths have been reported. The FDA reported that the current outbreak is not related to a 2017-2018 outbreak traced to other imported tahini products.

The importerm Broddzenatti Holding LLC of Jupiter, FL, distributed the recalled Karawan brand tahini to distributors in New York, Massachusetts, Virginia and Texas. Those distributors sent the product to retailers that have not been named by the FDA.

Consumers can identify the recalled tahini by looking for the following information on the 16-ounce jars and 39-pound buckets of the product:

  • Name of product: Tahini
  • Brand name: Karawan Tahini
  • Unit size: 16-ounce plastic retail jars and 39-pound plastic bulk buckets
  • Storage conditions: No refrigeration storage needed.
  • Expiration Date (s): Two years from the production. The expiration date is located on the lid of the containers.

Broddzenatti Holding imported the tahini from Palestine between December 2018 and January 2019, according to the company’s recall notice posted today by the FDA. Broddzenatti Holding LLC has ceased the importation and distribution of the product.

“This recall has been initiated due to New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene laboratory results from two samples of Karawan brand tahini testing positive for Salmonella,” according to the recall notice.

“Consumers who have purchased Karawan brand tahini are urged to destroy it or return it to the place of purchase for a full refund.”

Consumers with questions may contact Broddzenatti Holding LLC at 305-570-9050.

Yesterday’s tahini alert
On May 15, the FDA reported the tahini implicated in the current outbreak is imported from Israel. The public alert said several companies could be involved, but “Brodt Zenatti Holdings LLC” of Jupiter, FL, had been identified as one importer of the product. The FDA alert said the tahini of concern may be labelled as either “Karawan Tahini” or as “El Karawan Tahini.”

“The FDA has been working with the state of New York and New York City. The New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene tested samples of Karawan tahini and found that the product contained Salmonella,” according to the FDA’s outbreak investigation report.

“Based on the positive product sample, the available epidemiological data, and traceback data from the investigation, the FDA has requested that the product be voluntarily recalled. 

“Discussions with the U.S. agent for the firm, as well as foreign public health partners are ongoing and additional information will be provided as it becomes available.”

Tahini is made from sesame seeds and can be served on its own or used as an ingredient in Mediterranean and Middle Eastern style dishes, such as hummus, falafel and baba ganoush.

Importers sold the suspect tahini in bulk to retailers and restaurants, as well as in consumer packaging that is available at retail locations and online. 

“It may have also been used in other food products sold to consumers. Consumers should be aware that this product has a shelf life of two years and should check their homes for tahini with either label,” the FDA warned.

“Consumers with concerns about tahini consumed outside the home should ask their restaurant or retailer if the product they have purchased contains this tahini. Retailers and restaurants should throw the product out and sanitize any surfaces that may have come in contact with this tahini.”

Symptoms of Salmonella infection
Food that is contaminated with Salmonella bacteria usually does not look, smell or taste spoiled. Anyone can become sick with a Salmonella infection, but infants, children, seniors and people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk of serious illness because their immune systems are fragile, according to the CDC.

Anyone who has eaten any of the recalled products and developed symptoms of Salmonella infection should seek medical attention. Sick people should tell their doctors about the possible exposure to Salmonella bacteria because special tests are necessary to diagnose salmonellosis. Salmonella infection symptoms can mimic other illnesses, frequently leading to misdiagnosis.

Symptoms of Salmonella infection can include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours after eating contaminated food. Otherwise healthy adults are usually sick for four to seven days. In some cases, however, diarrhea may be so severe that patients need to be hospitalized. 

Older adults, children, pregnant women and people with weakened immune systems, such as cancer patients, are more likely to develop a severe illness and serious, sometimes life-threatening conditions.

It is possible for some people to be infected with the bacteria and to not get sick or show any symptoms, but to still be able to spread the infection to others.

Instructions for consumers, restaurants and retailers
In the event that retailers and/or other food service operators are found to have or handled Karawan tahini or other potentially contaminated food in their facilities, the FDA instructed them to discard it and tae the following action:

  • Contact their local health department and communicate to their customers regarding possible exposure to Salmonella.
  • Wash the inside walls and shelves of the refrigerator, cutting boards and countertops, and utensils that may have come in contact with recalled tahini; then sanitize them with a solution of one tablespoon of chlorine bleach to one gallon of hot water; dry with a clean cloth or paper towel that has not been previously used.
  • Wash and sanitize display cases and surfaces used to potentially store, serve, or prepare recalled tahini.
  • Wash hands with warm water and soap following the cleaning and sanitation process.
  • Conduct regular frequent cleaning and sanitizing of cutting boards and utensils used in processing to help minimize the likelihood of cross-contamination.

Consumerswho think they might have become ill from eating possibly contaminated tahini should talk to their health care providers.

The FDA advised that anyone who has or had the tahini in their homes should take these steps for preventing foodborne illness:

  • Wash the inside walls and shelves of the refrigerator, cutting boards and countertops, and utensils that may have contacted contaminated foods; then sanitize them with a solution of one tablespoon of chlorine bleach to one gallon of hot water; dry with a clean cloth or paper towel that has not been previously used.
  • Wash and sanitize surfaces used to serve or store potentially contaminated products.
  • Wash hands with warm water and soap following the cleaning and sanitation process.

Consumers can also submit a voluntarily report, a complaint, or adverse event (illness or serious allergic reaction) related to a food product.

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