Recall expands for onions linked to Salmonella outbreak; 44 cases in Michigan

More than 800 cases reported in U.S.

USDA: Don’t eat prepared salads, snacks with recalled onions

U.S. health officials are warning consumers to throw away onions linked to a Salmonella outbreak reported in 47 states.

Do not eat, serve, or sell recalled onions from Thomson International, Inc., or food made with these onions. Onion types include red, white, yellow, and sweet yellow varieties. Other companies have also issued recalls of foods, like chicken salads, made with recalled onions.

As of August 18, a total of 869 people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Newport have been reported from 47 states. Michigan has reported 44 cases.

Foods made with recalled onions such as cheese dips or spreads, salsas, and chicken salads have also been recalled. Foods were sold at multiple grocery store chains. View the list of recalled onions and foods here.

  • Check your home for recalled onions and recalled foods from Thomson International, Inc. and other companies, including Food Lion, Giant Eagle, Kroger, Publix, Ralph’s, Trader Joe’s, and Walmart onions.
  • If you can’t tell where your onions are from, don’t eat them. Throw them away.
  • If you used recalled onions to make any other food or don’t know where those onions were from, don’t eat the food. Throw it away, even if some of it was eaten and no one got sick.
  • Wash and sanitize any surfaces that may have come in contact with onions or their packaging, such as countertops, storage bins, refrigerator drawers, knives, and cutting boards.
  • When you order food from a restaurant or shop for food, check with the restaurant or grocery store to make sure they are not serving or selling recalled onions from Thomson International, Inc. or other companies, or any foods prepared with recalled onions, including foods such as salads, sandwiches, tacos, salsas, and dips.
  • If they don’t know where their onions are from, don’t buy the product or order the food.

Advice to Restaurants, Retailers, and Suppliers

  • Restaurants and retailers should not serve or sell recalled onions or foods prepared with these onions.
  • Check the list of recalled products.
  • If you don’t know where your onions are from, don’t serve or sell them.
  • Clean and sanitize all surfaces that onions have come in contact with, including cutting boards, countertops, slicers, utensils, and storage bins.
  • Suppliers, distributors, and others in the supply chain should not ship or sell recalled onions from Thomson International, Inc. or other companies.
  • Suppliers and distributors that repackage raw onions should clean and sanitize any surfaces and storage bins that may have come in contact with recalled onions.

View the list of recalled onions and foods here.

Epidemiologic and traceback information indicates that red onions are a likely source of this outbreak. Due to the way onions are grown and harvested, other onion types, such as, white, yellow, or sweet yellow, may also be contaminated.

Many ill people were identified as part of illness clusters. An illness cluster is defined as two or more people who do not live in the same household who report eating at the same restaurant location, attending a common event, or shopping at the same location of a grocery store in the week before becoming ill. Investigating illness clusters can provide critical clues about the source of an outbreak. If several unrelated ill people ate or shopped at the same location of a restaurant or store within several days of each other, it suggests that the contaminated food item was served or sold there.

Twenty-eight illness clusters have been identified in 10 states. Information was collected on 21 of the 28 clusters at restaurants and grocery stores. Information from these clusters shows that many ill people ate red onions and other types of onions. Investigations conducted by states and FDA identified that all 21 restaurants and grocery stores served or sold red, yellow, or white onions. Sixteen of the 21 clusters served red onions, 12 served yellow onions, and 10 served white onions.

The traceback information collected from several of these illness clusters identified Thomson International, Inc., of Bakersfield, California, as a likely source of red onions. Due to the way onions are grown and harvested, other onion types, such as white, yellow, or sweet yellow, may also be contaminated. Traceback is ongoing to determine if other onions are linked to the outbreak.

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About the Author:

Ken Haddad is the digital special projects manager for WDIV / He also authors the Morning Report Newsletter and various other newsletters. He's been with WDIV since 2013.