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FDA declares end to onion Salmonella outbreak

October 8 update — According to the CDC, the outbreak involving Salmonella contamination of onions appears to be over.

Recalled products should no longer be available in stores, but onions have a long shelf-life and recalled products could still be in consumer’s homes or in restaurants, especially if recalled products were frozen.

Although the outbreak is being declared over, the FDA will continue its root cause investigation and will communicate any findings that could assist future prevention efforts.

Recall Information

On August 1, 2020, Thomson International, Inc. recalled all varieties of onions that could have come in contact with potentially contaminated red onions, due to the risk of cross-contamination.

Recalled products include red, yellow, white, and sweet yellow onions shipped from May 1, 2020 to August 1, 2020. Onions were distributed to wholesalers, restaurants, and retail stores in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Canada.

Recalls have also been initiated by companies that sold onions or products containing recalled onions.

FDA’s List of Recalls of Food Products Associated with Onions from Thomson International, Inc.

Case Counts
Total Illnesses: 1,127
Hospitalizations: 167
Deaths: 0
Last illness Onset Date: September 11, 2020
States with Cases: AK (25), AL (2), AZ (39), AR (2), CA (128), CO (32), CT (2), DE (2), FL (8), GA (11), HI (3), ID (43), IL (54), IN (4), IA (31), KS (3), KY (3), ME (6), MD (7), MA (2), MI (47), MN (19), MS (5), MO (11), MT (72), NE (10), NV (11), NH (1), NJ (12), NM (3), NY (14), NC (6), ND (9), OH (11), OK (1), OR (109), PA (27), RI (3), SC (1), SD (23), TN (7), TX (2), UT (115), VA (10), WA (150), WV (3), WI (11), WY (27)

Background

The FDA, along with CDC and Canadian, state, and local partners, has been investigating a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Newport infections. FDA’s traceback portion of the investigation is complete and has identified Thomson International, Inc. of Bakersfield, CA, as the likely source of potentially contaminated red onions.

The multistate outbreak of Salmonella Newport infections linked to red onions from Thomson International, Inc. that were sold in several regions of the United States and Canada, investigated by the FDA, along with CDC and Canadian, state, and local partners, is over.

The outbreak resulted in recalls for multiple onion varieties and products containing onions. FDA’s traceback investigation identified a packing facility and multiple farms that supplied red onions during the time period of interest.

Joint FDA, California Department of Public Health (CDPH), and California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) field-level investigations were initiated at multiple Thomson International Inc. locations and surrounding areas within days of identifying the suspect vehicle and the firm. However, most product had already been harvested and distributed by that time.

Thus far, FDA has completed over 2000 product and environmental analyses from multiple Thomson International Inc. locations and surrounding areas, including water, soil, and scat samples. Although a variety of genetic strains of Salmonella Newport have been detected, as well as multiple other Salmonella serotypes, a genetic match to the outbreak strain has yet to be identified in any of the samples collected.

Additional sample analysis is underway. Although the outbreak is being declared over, the FDA will continue its root cause investigation and will communicate any findings that could assist future prevention efforts.