Red onion recall: Salmonella outbreak linked to onions expands to hundreds of people sickened in 43 states

"If you can't tell where your onions are from, don't eat them. Throw them away," the CDC says.

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Saturday, August 8, 2020
What is salmonella?
The bacteria kills hundreds of people in the U.S. every year. About 1 million cases of illness are caused by salmonella in food.

LOS ANGELES -- Health officials said a salmonella outbreak linked to red onions from a California supplier has sickened hundreds more people than originally reported.

The recall has also expanded to salads, sandwiches and other products produced by a multi-state supermarket chain and a Texas-based health food company.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a total of 640 cases and 85 hospitalizations in 43 states as of Friday. This count reflects an additional 244 ill and 26 hospitalized in 10 new states: Alabama (1), Connecticut (2), Delaware (1), Georgia (1), Massachusetts (2), Mississippi (2), New Hampshire (1), New Jersey (2), New Mexico (1) and West Virginia (2).

The FDA is investigating Thomson International, Inc. of Bakersfield, Calif, as a likely source of potentially contaminated red onions. The company issued a voluntary recall on all of its onions -- red, white, yellow and sweet -- due to possible cross-contamination.

Taylor Farms Texas in Dallas and Giant Eagle -- with grocery stores across Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Indiana and Maryland -- have issued voluntary recalls on onions and products containing onions. Neither company received reports of illness related to their products.

States with previously reported cases include Alaska (6), Arizona (14), California (76), Colorado (14), Florida (3), Idaho (26), Illinois (41), Indiana (2), Iowa (20), Kansas (2), Kentucky (1), Maine (4), Maryland (1), Michigan (36), Minnesota (14), Missouri (6), Montana (52), Nebraska (10), Nevada (8), New York (5), North Carolina (5), North Dakota (8), Ohio (8), Oregon (85), Pennsylvania (9), South Carolina (1), South Dakota (17), Tennessee (5), Utah (90), Virginia (8), Washington (25), Wisconsin (7) and Wyoming (16). Texas is no longer listed as a state with a reported case.

No deaths were reported.

Advice for consumers

The CDC issued the following recommendations to consumers looking to avoid contaminated onions:

  • At home, check your refrigerator and kitchen. Check the package or look for a sticker on the onion to see if it is from Thomson International, Inc. If it is, don't eat it. Throw it away. Other brand names that may be on labels include Thomson Premium, TLC Thomson International, Tender Loving Care, El Competitor, Hartley's Best, Onions 52, Majestic, Imperial Fresh, Kroger, Utah Onions and Food Lion.
  • Check premade products. Some foods made with recalled onions have also been recalled. This includes deli salads and vegetable mixes.
  • If you can't tell where your onions are from, don't eat them. Throw them away.
  • Wash and sanitize. Clean any surfaces that may have come in contact with onions or their packagings, such as countertops, storage bins, refrigerator drawers, knives and cutting boards.
  • Check with restaurants and grocery stores. When you order food from a restaurant or shop for food, check to make sure they are not serving or selling recalled onions from Thomson International, Inc., or any foods prepared with recalled onions, including foods such as salads, sandwiches, tacos, salsas and dips.
  • What is salmonella?

    Salmonella is a bacteria that can give you an infection called salmonellosis. Most human infections are caused by the consumption of food that is contaminated with the bacteria, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports.

    Contracting an intestinal infection from salmonella can lead to diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps. These symptoms usually appear within three days after infection and usually go away in four to seven days.

    In some cases, the infection may spread to the bloodstream and other parts of the body. These cases are associated with more severe diarrhea which can lead to hospitalization. Severe cases can be deadly if not treated promptly with antibiotics.