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FDA Investigation Summary - Multistate Outbreak of Salmonella Montevideo and Salmonella Mbandaka Linked to Krinos Brand Tahini Sesame Paste

What was the Problem and What was Done About It?

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and state and local public health officials investigated a multi-state outbreak of Salmonella Montevideo and Salmonella Mbandaka illnesses linked to tahini sesame paste that is repacked and/or distributed by Krinos Foods, LLC, of Long Island City, N.Y.

On June 21, 2013, the CDC reported that the outbreak appears to be over.  According to the CDC final report, a total of 16 people infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Montevideo or Salmonella Mbandaka were reported from nine states: California (1), Georgia (1), Iowa (1), Louisiana (1), Minnesota (2), New York (1), North Dakota (1), Texas (7), and Wisconsin (1).  One ill person was hospitalized and died.

The outbreak strain of Salmonella Montevideo was found by the Michigan Department of Agriculture during routine sampling.  In sesame paste samples collected from Krinos Foods, LLC, the FDA found an isolate of Salmonella Mbandaka with a similar PFGE pattern to that found in clinical samples from case patients.  Krinos Foods, LLC issued recall notices for its tahini sesame paste products with a code  of EXP JAN 01 – 2014 up to and including EXP JUN 08 – 2014 and EXP OCT 16 - 2014 up to and including EXP MAR 15 – 2015 stamped on the lid.

The products identified in the recall came in the following sized containers with noted UPC codes:
1-lb. glass jars of tahini sesame paste, UPC code 0-75013-28500-3.
2-lb glass jars of tahini sesame paste, UPC code 0-75013-28510-2.
40-lb plastic pails of tahini sesame paste, UPC code 0-75013-04018-3.

The FDA conducted an inspection of Krinos Foods, LLC from April 26 to May 1, 2013.

During the inspection, the investigator observed the following conditions and FDA recommended that the firm take action to correct those conditions: 

  • Failure to store raw materials in a manner that protects against contamination. Several large drums containing olives were being stored outside the facility. Approximately three drums were observed to have a loose rim indicating that the products were opened and not properly reclosed.
  • Failure to take effective measures to protect food transported by conveyor from contamination. The ceilings above the hopper and conveyor used to transport finished products such as tahini and taramosalata were observed to have apparent food product residue and grime.
  • Plumbing is not adequately installed and maintained to provide adequate floor drainage. Three washing sinks in the packaging room were observed to have hoses that are not directly attached to drainage sources. The sinks have pipes that are approximately one foot to three feet from the drainage source allowing waste water to drain directly onto the floor. Furthermore, the wall behind the sink along the northern wall displayed apparent grime and product buildup.
  • Refuse receptacles for hand washing facilities are not constructed to protect against contamination of food. Refuse containers were not observed at three of the wash sinks within the packaging room.

Krinos Foods, LLC promised corrections to the FDA observations.

On May 29, 2013, the FDA placed Gesas Genel Gida Sanayi Ve Ticaret A.S. of Turkey on Import Alert.  This means that tahini from this firm may be detained by FDA when offered for import into the United States unless the importer provides evidence that it is not contaminated with Salmonella, such as results from private laboratory tests of the tahini. Tahini from this firm will remain on import alert until FDA has sufficient confidence that future shipments will be in compliance.

Additional Information for Consumers

If consumers have the recalled Krinos brand tahini sesame paste, they should discard it immediately and not eat it.  The tahini sesame paste has a long shelf life, so consumers should check their homes for the product. The product should be discarded in a sealed container to prevent people or animals from eating it.

Krinos Foods, LLC has encouraged customers to return affected products by returning the gold cap stamped with the expiration date for a refund.

Consumers should always practice safe food handling and preparation measures. There are several safe food handling and preparation measures consumers can take.  At home, wash hands, utensils, and surfaces with hot, soapy water before and after handling food; keep raw meat, poultry, and seafood separate from fresh produce and other ready-to-eat foods; cook foods to the proper temperature; and refrigerate perishable foods promptly.

Additional Information for Industry

FDA has proposed a rule that would require firms to have written plans that identify hazards, specify the steps that will be put in place to minimize or prevent those hazards, identify monitoring procedures and record monitoring results, and specify what actions will be taken to correct problems that arise.  For additional information: FSMA Proposed Rule for Preventive Controls for Human Food.

The following are also available resources for industry:

Grocery Manufacturers Association. 2009. Control Of Salmonella In Low-Moisture Foods. (available in PDF - 540KB disclaimer icon ) Accessed and printed on February 5, 2009.

Grocery Manufacturers Association. 2009. Annex to Control Of Salmonella In Low-Moisture Foods. (available in PDF - 201KB disclaimer icon ) Accessed and printed on February 5, 2009.

Page Last Updated: 07/21/2014
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