Outbreak Investigation Updates by Date

Final Update

June 26, 2019 at 2:30 PM ET

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. Visit the FDA website for a full list of recalled products.

On This Page

May 17, 2019

CDC, public health and regulatory officials in several states, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) 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., recalled 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.