The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) have reported that, since January 2019, five European countries have reported salmonellosis infections linked to the consumption of sesame-based products, such as tahini and halva, that have been imported from Syria.
As of 14 October 2021, 121 cases with six different serotypes have been reported across Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden, these serotypes being Salmonella Amsterdam, Salmonella Havana, Salmonella Mbandaka, Salmonella Kintambo, Salmonella Orion and Salmonella Senftenberg. Almost half of the cases are in children under ten years of age, who also represent over half of hospitalised cases.
The ECDC report that the sesame products were sealed and ready to be consumed, suggesting that contamination occurred before the products reached the EU and EEA markets. Control measures implemented since August 2020 on the involved batches of sesame-based products have not prevented the occurrence of human cases to date. Moreover, the concerned products have a long shelf life and might still be stored in people’s homes. The ECDC and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) conclude that there is still a risk of new Salmonella infections related to these products.
Sources: ECDC, 14 October 2021 and EFSA, 14 October 2021