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Registered: ‎05-23-2010

Red onions. Salmonella Newport outbreak in 34 states

[ Edited ]
Illustration with a triangle and exclamation mark and text reading Food Safety Alert

Posted July 31, 2020 at 8:00 PM ET

CDC, public health and regulatory officials in several states, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administrationexternal icon (FDA) are investigating a multistate outbreak of SalmonellaNewport infections linked to red onions.

Advice to Consumers, Restaurants, and Retailers

 

At A Glance
Photo of red onions.

Do not eat, serve, or sell any onions from Thomson International Inc. or products made with these onions. Onion types include red, white, yellow, and sweet varieties.

  • At home, check your refrigerator and kitchen for any of these onions or fresh foods made with them.
    • Check the package or look for a sticker on an onion to see if it is from Thomson International, Inc. If it is, don’t eat it. Throw it away.
    • If you can’t tell where your onions are from, don’t eat them. Throw them away.
    • If you made any foods with onions and you don’t know where they are from, do not eat them. Throw them away, even if no one got sick.
    • Wash and sanitize any surfaces that may have come in contact with onions or their packaging, such as countertops, refrigerator drawers, knives, and cutting boards.
  • When you eat out or shop for food, check with restaurants and grocery stores to make sure they are not serving or selling onions from Thomson International Inc., or fresh foods prepared with them.
    • If they don’t know where their onions are from, don’t buy the product.
    • People sickened in this outbreak reported eating raw onions in freshly prepared foods, including salads, sandwiches, wraps, salsas, and dips.
Advice to Restaurants, Retailers, and Suppliers
  • Restaurants and retailers should not serve or sell any onions from Thomson International, Inc., or food prepared with these onions.
    • 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 any onions from Thomson International, Inc.
    • 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.

Take these steps if you have symptoms of a Salmonella infection:

  • 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.
Symptoms of Salmonella Infection

 

  • Most people infected with Salmonella develop diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps 6 hours to 6 days after being exposed to the bacteria.
  • The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days, and most people recover without treatment.
  • In some people, the illness may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. Salmonella infection may spread from the intestines to the bloodstream and then to other places in the body.
  • Children younger than 5 years, adults 65 years and older, and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to have a severe illness.
  • For more information, see Symptoms of Salmonella Infection.
Latest Outbreak Information

 

  • Since our last update on July 24, 2020, an additional 184 ill people have been reported in this outbreak, including 37 from 11 new states: Alaska, Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, and Texas.
  • A total of 396 people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Newport have been reported from 34 states.
    • Fifty-nine hospitalizations have been reported. No deaths have been reported.
  • Epidemiologic and traceback information showed that red onions are the likely source of this outbreak.
    • The traceback information collected identified Thomson International, Inc. of Bakersfield, CA as a likely source of red onions in this outbreak. Due to the way onions are grown and harvested, other types of onions, such as white, yellow, or sweet, may also be contaminated.
    • Additional traceback is ongoing to determine if other onions are linked to the outbreak.
  • The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC)external icon is investigating an outbreak of Salmonella Newport infections, which is related by whole genome sequencing to this outbreak in the United States. Canada has identified red onions imported from the United States as a likely source of its outbreak.
  • This investigation is ongoing. CDC will provide more information as it becomes available.
Investigation Details
July 31, 2020

Since the last update on July 24, 2020, an additional 184 ill people have been reported in this outbreak, including 37 from 11 new states: Alaska, Colorado, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Nevada, New York, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Texas.

As of July 29, 2020, a total of 396 people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Newporthave been reported from 34 states. A list of the states and the number of cases in each can be found on the Map of Reported Cases page.

Illnesses started on dates ranging from June 19, 2020, to July 12, 2020. Ill people range in age from less than 1 to 102 years, with a median age of 39. Fifty-two percent of ill people are female. Of 236 ill people with information available, 59 hospitalizations have been reported. No deaths have been reported.

Illnesses might not yet be reported due to the time it takes between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported. This takes an average of 2 to 4 weeks. Please see the Timeline for Reporting Cases of Salmonella Infection for more details.

Whole genome sequencing analysis of 48 isolates from ill people did not predict any antibiotic resistance. Standard antibiotic susceptibility testing by CDC’s National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS) laboratory is underway.

Whole genome sequencing analysis shows that an outbreak of Salmonella Newport infections in Canada is related genetically to this outbreak in the United States. This means that people in both of these outbreaks likely share a common source of infection.

Investigation of the Outbreak

On July 10, 2020, CDC PulseNet identified an outbreak of 13 Salmonella Newport infections in three states. Since being identified, the outbreak has rapidly grown to a total of 396 infections in 34 states.

State and local public health officials are interviewing ill people to determine what they ate and other exposures in the week before their illness started.

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-two illness clusters have been identified in seven states. Information from these clusters shows that many ill people ate red onions. The traceback information collected from these illness clusters identified Thomson International, Inc. of Bakersfield, CA 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 may also be contaminated. Additional traceback is ongoing to determine if other onions are linked to the outbreak.

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC)external icon is investigating an outbreak of Salmonella Newport infections, which is related by whole genome sequencing to this outbreak in the United States.

On July 30, Public Health Agency of Canada’s outbreak investigation identified U.S. red onions as a likely source of their outbreak.

Consumers, restaurants, and retailers should not eat, serve, or sell any onions from Thomson International, Inc. of Bakersfield, CA.

CDC will provide updates when more information is available.

 

 

THIS REPORT DOES NOT INCLUDE THE CANADIAN CASES. I'll post that information when it's available.

 

MORE JUST ADDED FROM THE FDA

  1. Outbreaks of Foodborne Illness
Outbreak Investigation of Salmonella Newport: Red Onions (July 2020)

Do not eat, sell, or serve onions from Thomson International, Inc.

The FDA, along with CDC and state and local partners, is investigating a multistate outbreak of SalmonellaNewport infections. FDA’s traceback investigation is ongoing but has identified Thomson International, Inc. of Bakersfield, CA as a likely source of potentially contaminated red onions. Although the investigation has determined that red onions are the likely source of this outbreak, Thomson International, Inc. has notified FDA that it will be recalling all varieties of onions that could have come in contact with potentially contaminated red onions, due to the risk of cross-contamination. This recall would include red, white, yellow, and sweet onions from Thomson International, Inc. Recall information will be made public as soon as it is available from Thomson International, Inc.

The investigation is ongoing to determine the source of contamination and if additional products are linked to illness. Additional information will be provided as it becomes available.

Recommendations

Advice for consumers, restaurants, and retailers: Consumers, restaurants, and retailers should not eat, sell, or serve red, white, yellow, or sweet onions from Thomson International, Inc. or products containing such onions. If you cannot tell if your onion is from Thomson International Inc., or your food product contains such onions, you should not eat, sell, or serve it, and should throw it out.

FDA recommends that anyone who received or suspects having received onions from Thomson International, Inc. use extra vigilance in cleaning and sanitizing any surfaces and containers that may have come in contact with these products to reduce the risk of cross-contamination. This includes cutting boards, slicers, countertops, refrigerators, and storage bins.

Consumers who have symptoms of Salmonella infection should contact their health care provider. Most people with salmonellosis develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps. More severe cases of salmonellosis may include a high fever, aches, headaches, lethargy, a rash, blood in the urine or stool, and in some cases may become fatal.

Suppliers and Distributors: Suppliers, distributors and others in the supply chain should not use, ship or sell red, white, yellow, or sweet onions from Thomson International, Inc. or food products containing such onions. Suppliers and distributors that re-package raw onions should use extra vigilance in cleaning any surfaces and storage areas that may have come into contact with onions from Thomson International, Inc. If there has been potential cross contamination or mixing of onions from other sources with onions from Thomson International, Inc., suppliers and distributors should discard all comingled and potentially cross-contaminated product.

Investigation Update

July 31, 2020

The FDA, along with CDC and state and local partners, is investigating a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Newport infections. The Public Health Agency of Canada is also investigating an outbreak of Salmonella Newport illnesses that have a genetic fingerprint closely related to the U.S. outbreak.

Investigators in the U.S. and Canada have been collaborating to identify the source of this outbreak. On July 30, 2020, Canadian health officials announcedExternal Link Disclaimer that they had determined red onions from the U.S. to be the potential source of the Canadian outbreak. The Canadian investigation has also prompted a recallExternal Link Disclaimer warning by the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

Building on this information, and on epidemiologic information on the U.S. outbreak from CDC, the FDA’s traceback investigation was able to identify Thomson International, Inc. as a likely source of contaminated red onions in the U.S.


Product Recall

Thomson International, Inc. has notified FDA that it will be recalling all varieties of onions that could have come in contact with potentially contaminated red onions, due to the risk of cross-contamination. This recall would include red, white, yellow, and sweet onions from Thomson International, Inc. Recall information will be made public as soon as it is available from Thomson International, Inc.

Case Count Map Provided by CDC
Outbreak Investigation of Salmonella Newport in Red Onions (July 2020): CDC Case Count Map for July 31, 2020
Case Counts

Total Illnesses: 396
Hospitalizations: 59
Deaths: 0
Illness Onset Date Range: July 12, 2020
States with Cases: AK (6), AZ (14), CA (49), CO (10), FL (3), ID (5), IL (10), IN (2), IA (15), KS (1), KY (1), ME (4), MD (1), MI (23), MN (10), MO (6), MT (33), NE (5), NV (5), NY (4), NC (3), ND (5), OH (7), OR (71), PA (2), SC (1), SD (11), TN (5), TX (1), UT (61), VA (4), WA (2), WI (5), WY (11)


Who to Contact

Consumers who have symptoms should contact their health care provider to report their symptoms and receive care.

To report a complaint or adverse event (illness or serious allergic reaction), you can

  • Content current as of:

    07/31/2020

  • Regulated Product(s)Topic(s)

 

Honored Contributor
Posts: 15,377
Registered: ‎03-09-2010

Re: Red onions. Salmonella Newport outbreak in 34 states

@Mindy D -

Thank you!

"If you walk the footsteps of a stranger, you'll learn things you never knew. Can you sing with all the voices of the mountains? can you paint with all the colors of the wind?"
Honored Contributor
Posts: 12,992
Registered: ‎11-16-2014

Re: Red onions. Salmonella Newport outbreak in 34 states

Thanks @Mindy D . You are very kind to alert us.

Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 6,516
Registered: ‎03-09-2010

Re: Red onions. Salmonella Newport outbreak in 34 states

Thanks Mindy

 

Just when you think things cant get any worse.

Wonder what stores sold them.  I make raw onion tomato salad all the time.  My BIL picked up a bag of sweet onions for me at Aldis but never looked at the brand. 

Honored Contributor
Posts: 13,510
Registered: ‎05-23-2010

Re: Red onions. Salmonella Newport outbreak in 34 states


@hopi wrote:

Thanks Mindy

 

Just when you think things cant get any worse.

Wonder what stores sold them.  I make raw onion tomato salad all the time.  My BIL picked up a bag of sweet onions for me at Aldis but never looked at the brand. 


@hopi @The company might supply to other brands so keep watching for updates. 

Respected Contributor
Posts: 3,711
Registered: ‎03-10-2010

Re: Red onions. Salmonella Newport outbreak in 34 states

@Mindy D , thank you so much!

I had a big bowl of assorted onions. I figure Bakersfield isn't too far away so pretty risky. One of our sons had a stomach bug this week and was pretty sick for a day. I wonder if onions were the culprit. 

Respected Contributor
Posts: 2,245
Registered: ‎04-16-2010

Re: Red onions. Salmonella Newport outbreak in 34 states

@Mindy D

Thanks for the info. I like red onions in a salad with cucumbers and tomatoes. I don't make it often enough to buy more than one red onion every once in a while.

Honored Contributor
Posts: 20,338
Registered: ‎10-04-2010

Re: Red onions. Salmonella Newport outbreak in 34 states

I have some from last week that we've been eating, but I shop tomorrow, so I'll pass those by for awhile.  Hope they are pulled from the shelf they are usually on.

Honored Contributor
Posts: 8,660
Registered: ‎06-25-2012

Re: Red onions. Salmonella Newport outbreak in 34 states

Thank goodness I only buy all of my produce from local farmers in my area!!!

"Pure Michigan"
Honored Contributor
Posts: 13,510
Registered: ‎05-23-2010

Re: Red onions. Salmonella Newport outbreak in 34 states

[ Edited ]

@qualitygal wrote:

I have some from last week that we've been eating, but I shop tomorrow, so I'll pass those by for awhile.  Hope they are pulled from the shelf they are usually on.


@qualitygal , The outbreak began more than a week ago. With gloves on, put them in a tied plastic bag. With new gloves on, using a paper towel, damp wipe with bleach mixed with water, the crisper bin. Then dry. Then discard plastic gloves and wash your hands.