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FDA issues food-borne salmonellosis warning

The Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), the national food regulatory body, has issued an advisory following the outbreak of salmonellosis, a food-borne bacterial infection, in the US and New Zealand.

Use of Tahini sesame paste from Turkey in food preparations has been found to be the origin of the infection. The FSSAI issued the advisory in the country because imported sesame paste is used in Indian cuisine and there is a possibility that the product have entered our food chain.

“The particular outbreak appears to be over. But, this product has a long shelf-life and it may still be at people’s homes. The product has been recalled. Consumers unaware of the recall could continue to eat the product and fall sick. Hence, the FSSAI issued an advisory on June 19,” said Shashikant Kekare, joint commissioner (food), Food and Drugs Administration (FDA), Pune division.

FDA assistant commissioner Dilip Sangat said, “Soon after receiving the FSSAI’s advisory, we carried out thorough inspections at food stores that stock imported food items. We have not found Tahini sesame paste from Turkey. But there are chances that it may be used in households in Pune. Hence, people need to be made aware that they should immediately stop using the product. We are keeping a vigil to ensure that the product does not enter the city’s imported food supply chain.”

As per the FSSAI’s advisory, the recalled consignment of Tahini sesame paste has expiration dates from January 1 to June 8, 2014 and from October 16, 2014 to March 15, 2015. The manufacturer of the paste in Turkey is called GESAS Genel Gida Sanayi Ve Ticaret A S of Konya, Turkey.

Food-borne salmonella is a leading cause of food-borne illnesses. Traditionally, most cases of salmonellosis were thought to originate from meat and poultry products. But, an increasing number of outbreaks are occurring as a result of contaminated produce, say researchers.

Several produce have been specifically identified in outbreaks, and the ability of salmonella to attach or internalise into vegetables and fruits may be factors that make these items more likely to be salmonella sources. In addition, environmental factors, including contaminated water sources used to irrigate and wash produce or crops, have been implicated in a large number of outbreaks, experts said.

Salmonella is carried by both domesticated and wild animals and can contaminate freshwater by direct or indirect contact. In some cases, direct contact of produce or seeds with contaminated manure or animal waste can lead to contaminated crops.

The US-based Centre for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that consumers do not eat recalled Krinos brand tahini sesame paste and discard any remaining product at homes.

Outbreak of salmonellosis in US

* Total 16 people infected with the outbreak strains of Salmonella Montevideo or Salmonella Mbandaka were reported from nine states till June 21

* The number of ill people identified in each state was as follows: California (1), Georgia (1), Iowa (1), Louisiana (1), Minnesota (2), New York (1), North Dakota (1), Texas (7), and Wisconsin (1)

* One patient hospitalised who died later

* Collaborative investigation efforts of state, local, and federal public health and regulatory agencies indicated that tahini sesame paste distributed by Krinos Foods, LLC of Long Island City, New York was the source of this outbreak

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