The number of onion brands recalled due to a potential Salmonella contamination, and the number of reported cases and hospitalizations have increased in recent weeks. According to the latest news release by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 640 cases of Salmonella illnesses have been reported in 43 states, including 85 hospitalizations and no deaths. That’s up from 396 cases in 34 states, including 59 hospitalizations from June 19, 2020, to July 29, 2020.
Red, white, yellow, and sweet yellow onion varieties from Thomson International Inc., and products containing those onions were identified as the likely culprit. The onions are also sold under the brand names Thomson Premium, TLC Thomson International, Tender Loving Care, El Competitor, Hartley’s Best, Onions 52, Majestic, Imperial Fresh, Kroger, Utah Onions, and Food Lion.
The onions were distributed to wholesalers, restaurants and retail stores in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. They were distributed in bulk cartons and mesh sacks ranging from 2 to 50 pounds. Thompson International’s recall created a domino effect of recalls. On Aug. 1, Giant Eagle recalled onions and food made with affected onions in stores across Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Indiana and Maryland; and Publix recalled onions sold in bulk at stores in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. On Aug. 6, Taylor Farms issued a recall of foods made with affected onions. On Aug. 10, Progressive Produce followed suit, recalling onions sold in Trader Joe’s stores in Arizona, California, Nevada and Utah, and Ralph’s in California.
On Aug. 5, The United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service issued a public health alert for products made with affected onions.
Salmonella is an organism that can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and those with compromised immune systems. Symptoms include fever, diarrhea (which may be bloody), nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.