Updated: 12/04/2018 at 8:56 AM EST
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is working alongside the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local health officials to investigate a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Concord.
This outbreak marks the third multistate food-borne infection outbreak to be announced by US officials in the past week.
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As of November 27, 2018, the CDC has identified 5 individuals infected with Salmonella Concord. Early epidemiologic evidence has identified tahini as the likely source of the outbreak.
As part of the investigation, health officials conducted interviews with the ill individuals. All 5 individuals reported consuming hummus made with tahini prior to falling ill. Specifically, 3 individuals reported eating tahini products in a restaurant in the United States, while the other 2 reported eating tahini products during international travel.
While processing imported products, the FDA collected a sample of tahini marketed under the brand Baron’s which is manufactured by Achdut Ltd in Ari’el, Israel. The sample tested positive for Salmonella Concord, and whole genome sequencing has indicated that the sample is highly related to clinical isolates of the infected individuals in the United States.
As a result, the company has been placed on FDA Import Alert status which prohibits any products produced by the company from entering United States borders until there is evidence that Salmonella is not present in the product.
Achdut Ltd has issued a voluntary recall of all brands of tahini products that are produced by the company which include Achva, Achdut, Soom, S&F, Pepperwood, and Baron’s. According to a tweet issued by the FDA, the recalled products have expiration dates from April 7, 2020 through May 21, 2020 (see tweet).
⚠️FDA & @CDCgov are investigating a multi-state #outbreak of #Salmonella linked to #tahini produced by Achdut Ltd. FDA is advising to not eat the recalled tahini w/exp dates from April 7, 2020 - May 21, 2020. For complete list of affected products >> https://t.co/i0RsXUsIfG pic.twitter.com/1xXVQ4DTlh
— FDA FOOD (@FDAfood) November 27, 2018
The FDA is also warning consumers that some of the affected products may not have labels written in English, therefore consumers who are uncertain of where the product was manufactured or who cannot identify the brand, should discard the product or return it for a refund.
According to a statement issued by Achdut, Inc, it is likely that the products were cross-contaminated with another product. The company reported that the source of the contamination has been eliminated and preventative steps have been taken to reduce future cross-contamination.
Consumption of food contaminated with Salmonella can cause symptoms that include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, and fever within 12 to 72 hours. The illness usually persists for 4 to 7 days and most individuals recover without treatment. Young children, older adults, and individuals with weakened immune systems are more vulnerable to complications, which can lead to hospitalization.
Health care providers who are living in areas affected by the outbreak should be cognizant of these symptoms and consider Salmonella as a potential diagnosis if a patient presents with them.
This is an ongoing investigation and updates will be provided as more information become available.
For the most recent case counts in the multistate Salmonella Concord outbreak linked to imported Israeli tahini, check out the Outbreak Monitor.