Tahini paste recalled following Salmonella scare

E. E. Wholesale trading as Equal Exchange has issued a recall for its dark tahini paste following the identification of salmonella in the product. Jars marked best before April 2019 should be returned to store for a full refund.

One of the primary ingredients in tahini paste is sesame seeds, the oldest oil seed known to man. Sesame seeds are notoriously laden with pathogens and food spoiling organisms. This is partly because of the nature of sesame as a plant, which is a ground bush that reaches a little over 3 feet and is native to Africa (although also cultivated now across Asia). Once harvested, the seeds are often dried on the ground, where they remain exposed to dust, birds and insects. From here they are packed into plastic bags where they begin to sweat in the hot temperatures, contaminating neighbouring seeds with whatever pathogens were carried on the product’s surface.

Upon arrival in a factory setting, there are two main options for processing sesame seeds to ensure their safety in a product such as tahini paste: dry sterilisation or wet pasteurisation.

In the case of dry sterilisation, a system such as Revtech’s decontamination towers has been proven to be effective in achieving a consistent kill count of 6 Logs, as validated by the California Almond Board. By choosing to sterilise the raw product first with minimal heat treatment, the colour and texture of the final product can be matched while safety is assured from the outset.

For smaller-scale producer, wet pasteurisation may be the most cost-effective decision. The process required to create tahini paste, with a similar density to and a slightly coarser texture than smooth nut-butters, is relatively straightforward. The raw ingredients must be pulverised than pasteurised, before cooling. There are two clear options in terms of processing for this: Roboqbo, for a cut-cook-cool vessel for small batch production, or Terlet’s Scraped Surface Heat Exchanger the Terlotherm, for continuous cooking and cooling with a larger throughput. Both systems have reference sites within the UK and Europe for similar applications, are efficient and cost-effective with high-quality results for the final product.

To hear more about process solutions for products with grain, seed or nut components, get in touch with the team at Holmach on 01780 749097.

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