A spate of recent recalls and outbreaks linked to nut butters, seed butters and tahini highlights the risk that some of these products pose. Contamination can occur if bacteria such as Listeria, E. coli or Salmonella makes its way into the product after the nuts and seeds have been roasted.
Tahini and Nut Butter Outbreaks
Karawan Tahini Salmonella Outbreak
A Salmonella outbreak linked to Karawan brand tahini imported from Israel sickened six people in three states. One person was hospitalized. Texas and Massachusetts each reported one illness, New York reported four. Brodt Zenatti Holdings, LLC of Jupiter, FL issued a recall for the product on May 15, 2019. On May 201, 2019, the company also recalled SoCo brand of tahini.
Achdut Tahini Salmonella Outbreak
A tahini Salmonella outbreak sickened eight people in four states. A recall has been issued for the tahini, made by, Achdut Ltd. in Ari’el, Israel, and sold under a variety of brand names including Achva, Achdut, Soom, S&F, Pepperwood, and Baron’s. New York reported five illnesses. Michigan and Hawaii have reported one illness each.
I.M. Healthy SoyNut Butter E. coli Outbreak
In 2017, an E. coli outbreak linked to I.M. Healthy SoyNut Butter sickened 32 people in 12 states. Twelve people required hospitalization, including nine children who developed hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), a form of kidney failure. HUS, a potentially fatal complication, affects about 10 percent of E. coli infections. It primarily affects young children. The Pritzker Hageman E. coli team filed a lawsuit on behalf of one of those children.
During an inspection of the manufacturing facility, FDA investigators found multiple food safety violations. The number of illnesses reported from 12 states were: Arizona (4), California (5), Florida (2), Illinois (1), Maryland (1), Massachusetts (1), Missouri (1), New Jersey (1), Oregon (11), Virginia (2), Washington (2), and Wisconsin (1).
Sunland Salmonella Outbreak
In 2012, a Salmonella outbreak linked to organic peanut butter produced by Sunland Inc. and sold under a variety of brand names including Trader Joe’s, Newman’s Own, Earth Balance, Harry & David, Target’s Archer Farms and Safeway’s Open Nature, sickened 42 people and triggered more than 250 product recalls. The National School Lunch program used two of the recalled products, Smucker’s Uncrustables sandwiches and bulk drums of peanut butter.
At that time, Sunland was the country’s largest producer of organic peanut butter. During inspections of the facility in Portales, New Mexico, the FDA found numerous food safety violations including unprocessed nuts being stored outside where they witnessed birds sitting on them and pooping on them.
If you developed food poisoning from a contaminated nut butter, seed butter or tahini product and would like to talk with a food poisoning lawyer, call 1 (888) 377-8900 or use this online form. The consultation is free and there is no obligation.
Tahini and Nut Butter Recalls
Karawan and SoCo Tahini Recall
On May 15, 2019, select sizes of Karawan brand tahini, which were linked to a Salmonella outbreak, were recalled by U.S. distributor Brodt Zenatti Holding LLC of Jupiter, Florida. On May 20, 2019, for SoCo brand tahini, also distributed by Brodt, were recalled. On June 10, 2019, more sizes of Karawan brand tahini were recalled.
Oskri Organics Listeria Sunflower Butter Recall
On January 2, 2019, Oskri Organics Corporation of Lake Mills, Wisconsin issued a recall for some lots of Oskri Organic Sunflower Butter, Oskri Tahini Butter, Thrive Sunflower Butter for possible contamination with Listeria. The company said it was not aware of any illnesses at the time the recall. Oskri said it became aware of the problem when a customer submitted the product for testing and results showed it was positive for Listeria monocytogenes.
Consumers who have purchased these products should not eat them as Listeria can cause serious illness and death. Among pregnant women, Listeria can cause miscarriage, stillbirth, premature delivery and infection of the newborn.
On January 29, 2019, Oskri issued a recall for all nut butters it manufactures after test results on multiple products were positive for Listeria monocytogenes.
Oskri Organics Corporation of Lake Mills, WI is recalling ALL Oskri Corporation manufactured nut butters.
Thrive Nut Butters Recall (Oskri-manufactured)
On January 24, 2019, Thrive Market Inc. issued a recall for all unexpired lots of 10 nut butter products including almond butter, cashew butter, peanut butter, coconut butter and sunflower butter. In its recall notice. Thrive, of Marina Del Rey, CA, said it was notified on January 21, 2019, by one of its suppliers that some lots had tested positive for Listeria.
Inspired Organics Listeria Recall (Oskri-manufactured)
On December 20, 2018, Inspired Organics issued a recall of all lots and all dates of organic almond butter, organic peanut butter and tahini or sunflower butters for potential Listeria contamination. The Inspired Organics recall of all lots and dates of all nut and seed butters followed two previously issued recalls. One on December 11, 2018, for Inspired Organics, LLC sunflower butter recalled for potential Listeria contamination. And one on December 17, 2018, for possible Listeria contamination of Organic Almond Butter.
Distributors shipped these products to foodservice and retail locations in 12 states and one Canadian province. They are: Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Ontario, Canada.
According to the company, they expanded the recall when product tests performed after the initial recall returned “presumptive positive” results for Listeria contamination. Oskri Corp. produces all Inspired Organic nut and seed butters.
Wholesome Pantry Listeria Recall (Oskri-manufactured)
On March 28, 2019, Wakefern Food Corp. issued a recall for a variety of Wholesome Pantry Organic brand nut butters for potential Listeria monocytogenes contamination. At the time of the recall, no illnesses had been reported.
The recall includes five varieties of nut butters sold at ShopRite, Price Rite Marketplace, The Fresh Grocer and Dearborn Market stores in the following states: New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Delaware, Rhode Island and Virginia.
The recalled items were packaged in 16-ounce plastic jars with “best by” dates of June 2020 and earlier. The names and UPC numbers of the recalled products Wholesome Pantry Organic products are:
- Creamy Salted Almond Butter, UPC: 04119006004
- Unsalted Almond Butter, UPC: 04119006005
- Unsalted Sunflower Butter, UPC: 04119005827
- Tahini Butter, UPC: 04119005828
- Cashew Butter, UPC: 04119006006
According to the recall, Wakefern learned of the potential contamination when Oskri Corp. notified them that several nut butters produced in their facility had tested positive for Listeria.
Food Safety Violations
Five years ago, the FDA sent Oskri a warning letter for serious food safety violations. One of the violations was for failure to hold nuts and seeds in suitable containers. Both roasted and unroasted nuts and seeds were stored in bulk metal bins with metal mesh screen lids. Such lids do not protect them from adulterants or contaminants. FDA inspectors saw drips of clear liquid and drops of dark fluid on the mesh screen covers of the bins. The company corrected the problems after receiving the letter.
In January Oskri Corp. ceased production at its Lake Mills facility while it worked with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on an investigation of how the contamination occurred. Two months later, the building was up for sale.
UPDATE: Updated February 4, 2019, to include updated recall information.
*UPDATE: Updated March 1, 2019, to include updated outbreak information.
*UPDATE: Updated April 5, 2019, to include recall information about Wholesome Pantry and Oskri Corp. plant closure.