The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is instructing consumers to throw away any unlabeled red, white and yellow onions due to a widespread salmonella outbreak linked to the vegetable.
So far, 652 people from 37 states have reported being sick and 129 people have been hospitalized in this salmonella outbreak that began in mid-September. The CDC has traced the source of infections to whole red, white and yellow onions imported from Chihuahua, Mexico, and then distributed by Idaho-based ProSource Inc. throughout the U.S. The largest share of salmonella cases so far has been in Texas.
How to Stay Safe from Salmonella
Your onions may have labels on them that show where they’re from. But, as a safety precaution, the CDC is recommending you throw out any whole red, white or yellow onions that aren’t clearly labeled. The CDC is also recommending that restaurants and businesses don’t sell or serve any whole onions imported from Chihuahua and distributed by ProSource Inc.
Onions have sickened 652 people in 37 states in the salmonella outbreak.
Interviews with afflicted people revealed that 75% of people ate or possibly ate raw onions or dishes containing raw onions before they became ill, according to the CDC. Several people reported eating at the same restaurants. The outbreak strain was identified in a sample of cilantro and lime from a restaurant condiment cup collected from a sick person’s home. The sick person also reported that the cup had contained onions, though none were left in the cup when it was tested. Investigators were then able to determine that ProSource Inc. had supplied the whole onions to many of the restaurants where sick people had eaten.
In addition to tossing unlabeled onions, the health agency recommends washing countertops or other surfaces and containers that may have touched the onions with hot soapy water.
While raw onions pose the largest risk, you could still become ill from cooking onions because the cross-contamination possibilities if the onion touches your hands or counters, according to Consumer Reports.
Salmonella Symptoms to Watch For
Most people infected with salmonella develop diarrhea, fever and stomach cramping anywhere from six hours to six days after eating contaminated food. The illness usually lasts four to seven days and most people are able to recover without treatment.
However, in some people, the infection spreads from the intestines to the bloodstream and then to other parts of the body, posing a more severe risk. Children younger than 5, adults 65 and older and people with weakened immune systems are more likely to have severe illness.