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Epidemiol Infect. 2005 Dec;133(6):1065-72.

Sesame seed products contaminated with Salmonella: three outbreaks associated with tahini.

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OzFoodNet, Hunter Population Health, Wallsend, New South Wales (NSW), Australia.


In November 2002, the first of three outbreaks of Salmonella Montevideo infection in Australia and New Zealand was identified in New South Wales, Australia. Affected persons were interviewed, and epidemiologically linked retail outlets inspected. Imported tahini was rapidly identified as the source of infection. The contaminated tahini was recalled and international alerts posted. A second outbreak was identified in Australia in June-July 2003 and another in New Zealand in August 2003. In a total of 68 S. Montevideo infections, 66 cases were contacted. Fifty-four (82%) reported consumption of sesame seed-based foods. Laboratory analyses demonstrated closely related PFGE patterns in the S. Montevideo isolates from human cases and sesame-based foods imported from two countries. On the basis of our investigations sesame-based products were sampled in other jurisdictions and three products in Canada and one in the United Kingdom were positive for Salmonella spp., demonstrating the value of international alerts when food products have a wide distribution and a long shelf life. A review of the controls for Salmonella spp. during the production of sesame-based products is recommended.

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