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Salmonella outbreak linked to onions has national reach

onionCDC, several states, and FDA continue to investigate a rapidly growing outbreak of Salmonella Newport infections. Red onions have been identified as the likely source. The traceback information collected identified Thomson International Inc. of Bakersfield, CA, as a likely source of red onions in this outbreak. Additional traceback is ongoing to determine if other onions are linked to the outbreak.

A total of 396 ill people have been reported from 34 states. 59 people have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.

As a result, Thomson International is recalling red, yellow, white, and sweet yellow onions shipped from May 1, 2020 through the present.  The onions are being recalled because they have the potential to be contaminated with Salmonella. Onions were distributed to wholesalers, restaurants, and retail stores in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Canada.

The onions were distributed under the brand names Thomson  Premium, TLC Thomson International, Tender Loving Care, El Competitor, Hartley’s Best, Onions 52, Majestic, Imperial Fresh, Kroger, Utah Onions and Food Lion.

“As an organization we take matters of food safety extremely seriously," said Trent B. Hartley, president of Onions 52. "We believe our food safety and facilities maintenance processes exceed industry standards, as our prior record indicates.  We are deeply concerned about this unfortunate outbreak of illness and are relieved that no lives have been lost. We are taking every measure and precaution available to us in order to protect our customers and the public. No one is more anxious than we are to gather all relevant information, arrive at certainty as to a source and assure the public of our continued product safety moving forward.”

CDC is advising consumers, restaurants, and retailers not to eat, serve, or sell any onions from Thomson International Inc. or food made with these onions. This advice applies to red, white, yellow and sweet onions.

Although red onions have been identified as the likely source, other types of onions may be contaminated due to the way onions are grown and harvested.

Most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps six hours to six days after being exposed to the bacteria. The illness usually lasts four to seven days, and most people recover without treatment. In some people, the illness may be so severe that the patient is hospitalized. Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the bloodstream and then to other parts of the body. Children younger than 5, adults 65 and older, and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to have severe illness.

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