Idaho part of nationwide outbreak of salmonella recently linked to consumption of red onions

The Food and Drug Administration has linked red onions to a multi-state outbreak of salmonella.
The Food and Drug Administration has linked red onions to a multi-state outbreak of salmonella.(AP Graphics)
Published: Aug. 6, 2020 at 12:16 PM MDT
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TWIN FALLS, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) - Idaho health officials are warning residents of a national salmonella outbreak that has sickened 26 people so far in the state.

The Department of Health and Welfare said the first illness associated with the nationwide outbreak occurred late June. Interviews with people infected suggest that contaminated red onions are the most likely source of the Salmonella bacteria. People reported eating raw onions in freshly prepared foods including salads, sandwiches, wraps, salsas and dips.

As of August 5, a national total of 663 cases of Salmonella, including the 26 in Idaho, have been reported from 45 states. Cases in Idaho have occurred among residents of all seven public health districts, according to an IDHW news release.

Idaho is part of nationwide outbreak of Salmonella recently linked to consumption of red onion:...

Posted by Idaho Department of Health and Welfare on Thursday, August 6, 2020

“Because onions have a fairly long shelf life, we are concerned that consumers may still have these products in their homes,” said Dr. Leslie Tengelsen, epidemiologist with the Division of Public Health in DHW. “We recommend that you throw away any onions you have in your pantry.”

Through product traceback efforts by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, red onions from Thomson International, Inc., of Bakersfield, Calif., were determined to be the likely source. Because of the processes used to grow and harvest onions, other types of onions, such as white, yellow, or sweet yellow, may also be contaminated. On Aug. 1, Thomson International, Inc., voluntarily recalled red, yellow, white, and sweet yellow onions because they may be contaminated with Salmonella.

DHW and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advise:

  • Consumers do not eat any onions from Thomson International, Inc., or food made with these onions. If you don’t know where onions are from, don’t eat them. Other brand names that may be on labels include:
  • Thomson Premium
  • TLC Thomson International
  • Tender Loving Care
  • El Competitor
  • Hartley’s Best
  • Onions 52
  • Majestic
  • Imperial Fresh
  • Kroger
  • Utah Onions
  • Food Lion
  • Restaurants, and retailers: Do not serve or sell the recalled onions and 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 food chain: Do not ship or sell the recalled onions. Those that repackage raw onions should clean and sanitize any surfaces and storage bins that may have come in contact with the recalled onions.

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, but some people may require hospitalization.

People most likely to have severe illness are children younger than 5 years, adults 65 years and older, and people with weakened immune systems. Seek medical attention and contact your local public health district if you think you have Salmonella infection.

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