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Consumer ReportsIsrael's Tahina 'Kombina'

Israel’s Tahina ‘Kombina’

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Last Updated on July 26, 2013

The Results of a Channel 10 Investigation of the Claimed Nutritional Values of Tahini on Israel’s supermarket shelves

Screened on 25th July, 2013: Kolbotek (Consumer Program) – Channel 10 – Israel TV

According to Israel food regulations, tahina paste (tahini) has to be one hundred percent sesame.  Some salt and water is permitted.  Food additives and food colorings are prohibited.

The recommended daily calcium requirement is as follows:

Child 800mg
Adult 1300mg
Pregnant woman 1500mg

Israel imports most of its sesame seeds from Ethiopia, India, Canada and Singapore – a total of 50,000 tons per year.

Two types of tahini paste are available commercially in Israel;

  1. Tahina Golmi is tahini that is produced from the sesame seed alone and is rich creamy white in color.
  2. Tahina Maleh is tahini that is produced from the sesame seed as well as from the outer husk.  This is much darker in color.

There are many brands of tahini (sesame paste) available in Israel most of them claim to be rich in calcium and iron.  But, is the food labeling on the product telling us the truth?

The calcium content of sesame is as follows:

Sesame Seeds Only Sesame Seeds with Husk Husk Only
97mg/100gr 775mg/100g 5,500mg/100g

Channel 10 reported the results of their investigation:

A sample of sesame seeds with and without the outer husk was sent to two  Italian laboratories to test the calcium and iron content.  A sample of 16 different types of tahini paste were sent.

Brand Tahini Golmi Tahini Maleh
 Barakeh  v  v
 Achva v
 Hanasich  v v
 Shufersal v v
 El Arz  v v
 Elwadi  v
 Tehina Zahav  v
 Hamutag – Rami Levi  v
 Har Bracha  v
 Harduf  v
 Amara v
 Hayona v

The Israeli standard allows for a variation of the stated nutritional value of tahini paste, as indicated on the label, of between 80 – 120 percent.  These were a sample of the calcium (Ca) and iron (Fe) content results:

Tahini Golmi
Brand Food Label Claim in mg Laboratory 1 in mg Laboratory 2 in mg

Barake – Ca

Barake – Fe

120

6.6

110

4.6

77

Shufersal – Ca

Shufersal – Fe

120

no claim made

124 123

El Arz – Ca

El Arz – Fe

120

9

110

9

190
Hanasich – Ca

Hanasich – Fe

190

6.3

193

6.5

220

Hayona – no claims made

on the food label at all

211

357

The calcium levels of tahini maleh should be 775mg /100g

Tehini Maleh

Brand

Food Label Claim in mg Laboratory 1 in mg Laboratory 2 in mg

Hanasich – Ca

Hanasich – Fe

400

10.5

506

6.2

601
Barakeh – Ca

Barakeh – Fe

600

6.5

329

6.0

290

Shufersal – Ca

Shufersal – Fe

600

no claim made

300

230

El Wadi – Ca

El Wadi – Fe

849

7.8

225

4.1

110

The conclusion of the Italian laboratories is, on a whole, the nutritional value of the tahini products is lower than indicated on the label.

The Israeli food standard for tahini stipulates that no other ingredients which are  not a derivative of sesame are to be added.  This means starch, whiteners and colorants are forbidden.

Now the bad news…

Titanium dioxide is a chemical additive used as a whitener in the food, plastics and metal industries.  It is carcinogenic (cancer forming).  In Germany it has been banned for use as an additive in foodstuffs.

In Israel, however, titanium dioxide is permitted as an ingredient in the food industry.

Two of the brands were tested in Italy and the following results were found:

Brand Titanium Dioxide Content
Zahav 32mg
Har Bracha 175mg

In conclusion, Kolbotek claims the best 3 brands that met all Israeli food standards and showed the best laboratory results are:

  1. El Arz
  2. Achva
  3. Hamutag
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