Onion Recall May Have Contaminated Tons of Foods with Listeria

Concerns over listeria poisoning have led a California grower to expand a recent recall of onions, which has already resulted in the recall for a number of other food products that contain the potentially contaminated onions.  

Following an initial onion recall issued on July 18, Gills Onion LLC has expanded the recall to include more diced and slivered onions, as well as onion/celery mix, due to the risk that it may contain Listeria monocytogenes, the bacteria that may result in listeriosis.

The initial recall listed only products processed on a single days production of the onions, but now includes any of its products that were processed at its facility after the initial contamination. The contamination was found after a random sampling at retail was taken.

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The expanded recall has shut down the Oxnard facility pending a concurrent investigation conducted by the company and the FDA.

A complete list of Gill’s products affected by the recall is included in the recall notice. The onions have also been used in a variety of other products by different companies which have also been recalled.

Listeria Risk from Recalled Onions

Listeria monocytogenes is an organism that can cause serious, sometimes fatal, infections in young children, the elderly or people with weakened immune systems.

Less serious symptoms in healthy people can include high fever, severe headaches, nausea, abdominal pain and diarrhea. Listeria can also cause miscarriage and still births in pregnant women. Approximately 1,600 cases of Listeria are reported annually in the U.S.

The products, diced and slivered red and yellow onions, whole peeled yellow onions and diced onion/celery mix, were shipped directly from Gills to retailers in Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Montana, New York, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Washington and Canada. Other states received products containing Gills onions, with a total of 15 separate products containing the onions being recalled nationwide.

According to Gills, none of the products included in the expanded recall have tested positive for Listeria and no illnesses have been attributed to the contamination as of yet.

In a release dated July 25, the company states they have been working to thoroughly investigate the facility in question.

“Our priority right now is to carry out this recall effectively and efficiently in order to reduce the risk to public health,’ said Steve Gill, president of the company.  “We’ve identified the problem, and we are taking aggressive actions to prevent this from happening again. These initial actions include the formulation of a panel of food safety experts and microbiologists with expertise in Listeria control, an expansion of the required microbial surveillance and sanitation programs, and continued testing.”

Other products that may contain onions processed by Gills include fresh salsa, chicken salad, bean dip, shrimp salad, wingless buffalo blue cheese dip and veggie pizza.

Gills has notified all customers who received the recalled product directly from the company requesting its removal from commerce and have advised its direct customers to notify their customers. Gills recommends anyone who has the recalled product in their possession to not consume the product, destroy it or discard it. Consumers with questions can call (800) 348-2255.

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