Skip To Content

Support the Forward

Funded by readers like you DonateSubscribe
Fast Forward

Can shrimp and crab make your kosher Sabra hummus Salmonella-free?

There is a possible solution to Salmonella contamination in your kosher hummus: Shrimp and crabs.

On Monday, Sabra, the world’s leading hummuseria, issued a voluntary recall on some containers of its Classic Hummus, a certified kosher product, for possible Salmonella contamination.

According to a statement by Sabra and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), approximately 2,100 cases of 10 oz Classic Hummus are possibly contaminated. However, no illnesses or customer complaints have been reported in connection with the recall thus far.

While Salmonella, which is linked to foodborne illnesses like food poisoning, is most commonly found in animal products like raw meat, poultry, eggs, it can also make its way into plant-based products including beans, fruits, and vegetables. This is mostly due to cross contamination with animal products, animal waste or fertilizers. .

But, according to researchers, shrimp and crabs might offer a solution.

A December 2020 study found that chitosan, a biopolymer found in the exoskeletons of crustaceans like shrimp and crabs, can reduce Salmonella cells and function as an antimicrobial agent in certain food products when particular requirements are met.

While many studies have been conducted to test the effectiveness and sustainability of chitosan-based treatments, it is not currently being used to reduce the risk of Salmonella in mass-distributed food products.

All of which raises the question: If chitosan were to be used in your favorite brand of hummus, would it still be Kosher?

According to Rabbi Daniel Cohen , there is no halachic psak, or definitive answer, with the information currently available.

“It would need to be evaluated by the supervising agency of the hummus company together with people who are well-versed in the laws of kashrut,”Cohen said. “If there is residual material from the exoskeletons, then there is a high likelihood that there would be a problem.”

Another source of insight would be the one-sixtieth rule , also known as the rule of bitul shishim , which says that if the contaminating substance is less than one-sixtieth of the whole product, it can be considered nullified.

Cohen added that more research would have to be done to determine what form the crustacean material would take in the food products.

“We would definitely need to know more about the reality on the ground,” he said.

There’s no need to worry about shrimp or crab in your kosher hummus for now. But if you have a package of Sabra Classic hummus on hand, you still might want to exchange it.


Republish This Story

Please read before republishing

We’re happy to make this story available to republish for free, unless it originated with JTA, Haaretz or another publication (as indicated on the article) and as long as you follow our guidelines. You must credit the Forward, retain our pixel and preserve our canonical link in Google search.  See our full guidelines for more information, and this guide for detail about canonical URLs.

To republish, copy the HTML by clicking on the yellow button to the right; it includes our tracking pixel, all paragraph styles and hyperlinks, the author byline and credit to the Forward. It does not include images; to avoid copyright violations, you must add them manually, following our guidelines. Please email us at [email protected], subject line “republish,” with any questions or to let us know what stories you’re picking up.

We don't support Internet Explorer

Please use Chrome, Safari, Firefox, or Edge to view this site.