On July 31, the FDA and CDC provided an update to the previously announced investigation into a multi-state Salmonella Newport outbreak. There are currently 396 cases reported to the CDC national database and distributed across 34 states where 25% of ill people have been hospitalized; no deaths have been reported at this time. Illnesses in Canada have also been linked to this outbreak through whole genome sequencing.
The FDA and CDC have announced that while their investigation is not complete, they have identified at least one primary source of Salmonella Newport as fresh whole red onions from Thomson International Inc., of Bakersfield, California. As of Friday, July 31, Thomson International Inc. has communicated they will issue a recall for all onion types that could have come in contact with contaminated red onions. In addition to pulling and destroying any recalled products, consumers, foodservice and retail outlets are encouraged to use CDC and FDA provided sanitation practices to eliminate cross contamination.
Along with this recall, the FDA and CDC have issued a greater advisory to consumers not to eat onions they have at home, or purchase onions or food prepared with onions at retail or foodservice if they are from Thomson International Inc. or if they can’t determine the source. Historically, Salmonella outbreaks have been prolonged due to cross contamination and repackaging that can make it very difficult for consumers to know the source of their onions which is a likely reason for the broad consumer advisory.
The FDA and CDC both acknowledged that whole, fresh red onions from Thomson International do not account for all illnesses and so the investigation is ongoing.
On July 31, Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) have also issued an update communicating that Sysco has issued a recall for 10lb and 25lb bags of Imperial Fresh, jumbo red onions. Foodservice, retailers, manufacturers have been instructed not to serve, use or sell any of the recalled items.
The outbreak case count and state distribution is rapidly growing but at this time, no new illnesses have been identified after July 12. PMA will continue to provide updates here as the information becomes available.