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Salmonella Outbreak in 34 States Affects Thomson International Inc. Onions

Salmonella is a bacterial disease that is commonly found in contaminated food or water. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and cramps.

Severe cases may result in rashes, blood in urine or stool, and death. Those experiencing salmonella symptoms are recommended to seek treatment. The health department has asked patients to recall what they’ve eaten in the past week to trace if their case is linked to the current outbreak.

A recent salmonella outbreak in the United States and Canada linked to onions is currently under investigation. Between June 19 and July 12, health officials reported almost 400 cases.

State and local officials from California continue to work with the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to track the source of the outbreak. So far, they’ve traced the contaminated onions to Thomson International Inc., an agricultural supplier.

CDC & FDA Guidelines

Fortunately, there had been no reported deaths so far with 396 cases and 59 hospitalizations across 34 states. Furthermore, the new salmonella outbreak has not been associated with another outbreak from people raising poultry in their backyards.

The previous strain of salmonella from poultry has affected people in 48 states. The highest cases are in Oregon, Utah, and California with 71, 61, and 49 cases, respectively. Additionally, 114 cases were reported in Canada by the Public Health Agency.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 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 packagings, 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 the 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.

Poultry Outbreak

The previous poultry outbreak began in January linking Salmonella infections to contact with chicks and ducklings. Some cases had been from poultry owners keeping animals indoors. Don’t kiss backyard poultry or snuggle them and then touch your face or mouth,reported the CDC.

According to the agency, the salmonella outbreaks this year are worse than usual where poultry farm workers normally contract an infection during spring and early summer. With the contaminated onion outbreak, cases have doubled in July, with a total of 938 cases across the country.

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