Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Fresh, Whole Onions Has Sickened More Than 650 People

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The Food & Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control are currently investigating a widespread salmonella outbreak that is linked to whole, fresh onions supplied by ProSource Inc. The types of onions in question include, but are not limited to, jumbo, colossal, medium, and sweet onions that were sold to restaurants and grocery stores around the country. Thus far, the outbreak has led to 652 illnesses and 129 hospitalizations across 37 states.

"The FDA's traceback investigation is ongoing but has identified ProSource Inc. (also known as ProSource Produce, LLC) of Hailey, Idaho as a source of potentially contaminated whole, fresh onions imported from the State of Chihuahua, Mexico," Frank Yiannas, FDA Deputy Commissioner for Food Policy and Response, said in a statement on October 20.

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"To date, this outbreak has resulted in 652 illnesses in consumers across the U.S. Illness subclusters investigated in this outbreak thus far are associated with restaurants and food service locations," Yiannas added. "That's why, as our investigation continues, we're advising restaurants, retailers and consumers to not eat, sell, or serve red, yellow, and white onions supplied by ProSource Inc. that were imported from the State of Chihuahua, Mexico from July 1 through August 27, or products containing these onions."

The onions in question may have stickers or packaging indicating the brand (ProSource Inc.) and the country (Mexico) where they were grown. Yiannas also noted that, while no formal recall has been issued yet, ProSource Inc. has agreed to voluntarily recall the onions. Additionally, he said that the FDA will continue to provide updates as they learn more during their continuing traceback investigation.

Onion recall: Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Fresh, Whole Onions Has Sickened More Than 650 People
Onion recall: Salmonella Outbreak Linked to Fresh, Whole Onions Has Sickened More Than 650 People

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While there have been no deaths reported so far, the outbreak has spanned more than three dozen states. The following states have been impacted: Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Due to the widespread nature of the outbreak, the FDA is advising consumers to ask if the onions they are being served or sold were supplied by ProSource Inc. and imported from the State of Chihuahua, Mexico. If there is no way to determine exactly where the onions came from, they should be thrown out. Additionally, the CDC notes that consumers should "wash and sanitize any surfaces that may have come in contact with these onions."

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According to the CDC, consumers should call their healthcare providers immediately if they experience any of the following severe salmonella symptoms:

  • Diarrhea and a fever higher than 102 degrees

  • Diarrhea for more than three days that is not improving

  • Bloody diarrhea

  • So much vomiting that you cannot keep liquids down

  • Signs of dehydration, including not peeing much, a dry mouth and throat, and f​​eeling dizzy when standing up

The CDC also states that salmonella symptoms usually begin six hours to six days after swallowing the bacteria, and that most people will recover without treatment within a week of falling ill. However, salmonella can be particularly dangerous for children under five, adults over 65, and individuals with weakened immune systems.

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