Sunday, November 18, 2012

WAS THE CONTAMINATED TAHINI REALLY STOLEN?

I always wonder what happens to contaminated food products that have been recalled and are not allowed to be sold. The law in the U.S. requires that such food be destroyed. But yes, there have been all kinds of other stories. Reports exist of some being recycled into dog and cat or other pet food. Some also find their way back into the human food supply system, occasionally in error and sometimes on purpose. I remember blogging one instance where recalled contaminated peanuts were repackaged and relabelled - under a particularly healthy-sounding name - and out they went to the stores again. But I do not recall any like the current tahini one.

What happened is that Tony’s Imports and Exports of Clovis CA, was told by the FDA to recall and not sell any more of its imported (from Lebanon) AL-RABIH Tahineh (Sesame Paste). Tests had turned up Salmonella bacteria. The product came in big 40lb white plastic pails (probably most of it going to food processors and food distributors).

This was back in June, 2012. The importing company was supposed to hold the product until the FDA turned up to supervise destruction. When the FDA finally got around to doing so - yes, only recently - the 141 pails could not be found. The company claimed they had been stolen. Frankly, I have a hard time believing this. Yes, sesame paste is expensive (I buy it myself in much smaller containers to make tahini). But can you see a thief lugging out 141 heavy pails of the stuff? I suspect an "inside job" - stolen or not.

But the FDA seems to have swallowed the story. Perhaps we should get Inspector Poirot on the case to help the Clovis Police Department.

I was feeling lazy, so I bought some ready-made (Trader Joe's) tahini a few days ago instead of making my own. Now I am wondering whether I should throw it out. Did the food processor that manufactured this for Trader Joe's use this contaminated "stolen" product? Oh..oh. So many decisions...

To your good health,

TSF

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