Outbreak of Salmonella Infections Linked to Karawan brand Tahini

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June 13, 2019 at 9:30 AM ET

CDC, public health and regulatory officials in several states, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)external icon are investigating a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Concord infections linked to Karawan brand tahini imported from Israel.

Advice to Consumers, Restaurants, and Retailers
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At A Glance
Photo of a Karawan product label.
  • Do not eat, sell, or serve tahini that is labeled as “Karawan Tahini”, “El-Karawan Tahini”, or “SoCo Tahini”. Do not eat, sell, or serve products made with this tahini, such as hummus.
  • On June 10, 2019, Brodt Zenatti Holdings LLC of Jupiter, Fla., recalledexternal icon bulk Karawan brand tahini sold in 3 kg (106-ounce) buckets.
  • On May 20, 2019, Brodt Zenatti Holding LLC recalled SoCo Brand tahini.
  • On May 15 2019, Brodt Zenatti Holding LLC recalledexternal icon Karawan brand tahini because it might be contaminated with Salmonella. This recall was expanded on May 17, 2019.
  • Retailers and restaurants should not use any of the Karawan or SoCo brand tahini. Retailers and restaurants should throw the product out and sanitize any surfaces that may have come in contact with recalled tahini or products made with recalled tahini.
  • Consumers should not eat any Karawan or SoCo brand tahini, throw it away. Throw out any food you made with recalled Karawan or SoCo brand tahini. Even if some tahini was eaten and no one got sick, do not eat it.
    • Wash containers that held foods made with Karawan or SoCo brand tahini with hot, soapy water or clean in the dishwasher.
    • Wash surfaces that came into contact with Karawan or SoCo brand tahini with hot, soapy water.
  • Contact a healthcare provider if you think you got sick from eating Karawan or SoCo brand tahini products.
Latest Outbreak Information
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  • Four people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Concord have been reported from three states.
    • Illnesses started on dates ranging from March 9, 2019, to March 23, 2019.
    • One hospitalization and no deaths have been reported.
  • Epidemiologic, traceback, and laboratory evidence indicates that Karawan brand tahini products are the likely source of this outbreak.
  • On May 15, 2019, Brodt Zenatti Holdings, LLC of Jupiter, Fla., recalledexternal icon tahini labeled as “Karawan Tahini” or “El-Karawan Tahini” because it might be contaminated with Salmonella.
    • On May 20, 2019, Brodt Zenatti Holding LLC of Jupiter, Fla. recalled SoCo Brand tahini.
  • This outbreak is not related to a recent multistate outbreak of Salmonella Concord infections linked to tahini. Ill people in the previous outbreak were infected with a different outbreak strain of Salmonella Concord.
  • This investigation is ongoing, and CDC will provide updates when more information is available.
Symptoms of Salmonella Infection
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  • Most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after being exposed to the bacteria.
  • The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most people recover without treatment.
  • In some people, the illness may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the bloodstream and then to other places in the body.
  • Children younger than 5 years, adults older than 65 years, and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to have a severe illness.
Investigation Details

May 17, 2019

CDC, public health and regulatory officials in several states, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)external icon are investigating a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Concord infections.

Public health investigators are using the PulseNet system to identify illnesses that may be part of this outbreak. PulseNet is the national subtyping network of public health and food regulatory agency laboratories coordinated by CDC. DNA fingerprinting is performed on Salmonella bacteria isolated from ill people by using techniques called pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) and whole genome sequencing (WGS). CDC PulseNet manages a national database of these DNA fingerprints to identify possible outbreaks. WGS gives a more detailed DNA fingerprint than PFGE. WGS performed on bacteria isolated from ill people showed that they were closely relatedly genetically. This means that people in this outbreak are more likely to share a common source of infection.

As of May 14, 2019, four people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Concord have been reported from three states. A list of the states and the number of cases in each can be found on the Map of Reported Cases page.

Illnesses started on dates ranging from March 9, 2019 to March 23, 2019. Ill people range in age from 8 to 32 years, with a median age of 21. Three of the four sick people (75%) are female. One hospitalization and no deaths have been reported.

Illnesses might not yet be reported due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported. This takes an average of 2 to 4 weeks. Please see the Timeline for Reporting Cases of Salmonella Infection for more details.

This outbreak is not related to a recent multistate outbreak of Salmonella Concord infections linked to tahini. People in the previous outbreak were infected with a different outbreak strain of Salmonella Concord.

WGS analysis of four clinical isolates did not predict resistance to any antibiotics. Testing of outbreak isolates using standard antibiotic susceptibility testing by CDC’s National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) laboratory isoccurring.

Investigation of the Outbreak

Epidemiologic, traceback, and laboratory evidence indicates that Karawan brand tahini products are the likely source of this outbreak.

In interviews, ill people answered questions about the foods they ate and other exposures in the week before they became ill. All three (100%) people interviewed reported eating tahini or hummus made with tahini.

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.

WGS results showed that the Salmonella strain identified in Karawan brand tahini samples collected at a restaurant was closely related genetically to the Salmonella strain identified in ill people. These results provide more evidence that people in this outbreak got sick from eating Karawan brand tahini.

On May 15, 2019, Brodt Zenatti Holdings, LLC of Jupiter, Fla., recalledexternal icon Karawan brand tahini because it might be contaminated with Salmonella. Restaurants and retailers should not serve or sell Karawan brand tahini products or products made with them, such as hummus. Consumers who have any Karawan brand tahini products in their homes should not eat them and throw them away.

This investigation is ongoing, and CDC will provide updates when more information is available.