Whether you’re cooking at home this week or are venturing out to your nearest patio for dinner with friends, you may want to avoid any menu item involving red onions. Federal Health officials announced that there has been a salmonella outbreak across the United States that has been linked to red onions, and a California company is likely the source.
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Thomson International Inc. of Bakersfield, California notified them that it will be recalling all varieties of onions including red, white, yellow, and sweet onions because of the risk of cross-contamination.
Officials say that the salmonella outbreak, which has been linked to the company’s red onions, has infected nearly four hundred people in more than thirty states, and has put almost sixty people in the hospital. There have not, as of yet, been any deaths linked to the outbreak .
The outbreak was first identified on July 10, and Thomson International Inc. voluntarily recalled all possibly contaminated products as of August 1. State and local public health officials are interviewing people who were infected to determine what they ate, as well as other exposures in the week before they got sick. Outbreaks are now also being investigated in Canada, where imported red onions have been identified as the source of their outbreak .
Symptoms of Salmonella Poisoning
According to the CDC, symptoms of salmonella poisoning include diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps 6 hours to 6 days after being exposed to the bacteria. Symptoms usually last from four to seven days, with the majority of sufferers recovering without treatment.
Some people may experience a more severe infection that requires hospitalization, and a salmonella infection can spread from the intestines into the bloodstream, allowing it to travel to other parts of the body. Children under five years old, adults over the age of 65, or individuals with weakened immune systems are more likely to experience a more severe illness .
Advice from the CDC
For the time-being, the CDC recommends that you do not eat or serve onions from Thomson International Inc. If you have onions at home, look for the sticker on the onion to determine where it is from, and throw it away if it is labeled with any of the following:
TLC Thomson International
Tender Loving Care, El Competitor
Food Lion 
Additionally, you should check any packaged prepared foods, such as salads, wraps, tacos, or sandwiches that contain onions to make sure it does not contain onions from any of the aforementioned brand names.
The CDC also recommends that if you’re uncertain where your onions are from, or if you’ve already made something with onions and you don’t know where they came from, to throw them away, even if no one has gotten sick yet.
To reduce your risk from this salmonella outbreak you should also wash and sanitize any surface that may have come into contact with onions or their packaging, like counter tops, cutting boards, knives, or refrigerator drawers .
If you are eating out at a restaurant or shopping for groceries, the CDC suggests checking with management to make sure that none of the food they are preparing contains the contaminated onions .
What to Do if You Get Sick
If you become infected with the salmonella bacteria, the CDC recommends you take the following steps:
- Talk to your healthcare provider.
- Write down what you ate in the week before you started to get sick.
- Report your illness to your local health department. The health department will likely call you for an interview to ask you about foods you ate in the week before you got sick.
- Assist public health investigators by answering their questions when they contact you .
As always with food outbreaks, when in doubt, throw it out. While you may not be particularly happy wasting food, it is not worth the risk of getting food poisoning.
To stay up to date with details regarding this salmonella outbreak recall visit the CDC Website
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