Hundreds of Salmonella Food Poisoning Illnesses Nationwide Linked To Recalled Mexican Onions

Outbreak began in early October, with clusters of illnesses linked to restaurants and grocery stores.

Federal health officials indicate that certain raw onion products imported from Mexico may be the cause of an ongoing multi-state salmonella outbreak, which has sickened at least 652 people.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced a ProSource Produce raw onion recall on October 21, after trace back investigations determined certain yellow, red and white onions may be contaminated with salmonella, which is a serious and sometime fatal foodborne illness.

The FDA and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began investigating clusters of salmonella illnesses throughout the United States in early October. To date, at least 652 individuals have fallen ill with a similar strain of salmonella, which has reportedly been linked to whole red, white, and yellow onions imported from Mexico.

According to trace back investigations performed by the CDC, at least 75% of people reported eating or possibly ate raw onions purchased from grocery stores or consumed dishes at restaurants that contained raw onions. Multiple consumers who became ill reported eating at the same restaurants.

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The CDC and FDA announced this week the likely source of the contamination is from onions imported from Chihuahua, Mexico, which were distributed throughout the United States by ProSource Inc., after the agencies found a similar strain of salmonella in a sample of cilantro and lime from a restaurant condiment cup collected at a sick person’s home. Investigators further confirmed ProSource was the supplier of onions to the restaurant where the condiment cup was collected.

As a result of the findings, ProSource Produce has agreed to conduct a voluntary recall of are whole raw onions (red, yellow, and white) that were shipped to the United States from Chihuahua, Mexico, between July 1, 2021, and August 31, 2021, and were distributed nationwide, as well as Ontario and Quebec, Canada. No fresh onions that originated in Chihuahua, MX have been shipped by the company since the end of August 2021.

The onions were distributed to wholesalers, broadline foodservice customers, and retail stores in 50 lb., 25 lb., 10 lb., 5 lb., 3 lb., and 2 lb. mesh sacks; and 50 lb., 40 lb., 25 lb., 10 lb., and 5 lb. cartons under the brand names Big Bull, Peak Fresh Produce, Sierra Madre, Markon First Crop., Markon Essentials, Rio Blue, ProSource, Rio Valley, and Sysco Imperial.

For healthy individuals, salmonella food poisoning symptoms typically include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain lasting between four and seven days. The illness can become worse due to the delay in treatment because the infection can only be diagnosed by testing stool samples and is usually treated with antibiotics.

Among individuals with a weakened immune system, such as the elderly, children or pregnant women, the illness can pose a much greater risk and may lead to death or still birth if left untreated. In rare circumstances, the infection can even spread throughout the blood stream and cause arterial infections, endocarditis and arthritis.

Consumers, restaurants, and retailers are being instructed not to eat, serve, or sell recalled onions from ProSource Produce Inc., or if the source of the onion is unknown. Customers are being asked to either return the onions to their place of purchase for a full refund or properly discard them. Customers with questions can call ProSource at (208) 928-4959.

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