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Salmonella outbreak linked to over 650 onion cases

More than 650 people in 37 states have contracted an onion import-related salmonella outbreak, federal health officials said Wednesday.

The FDA said the investigation had identified ProSource Inc. from Haley, Idaho, as a source of potentially contaminated whole fresh onions imported from Chihuahua, Mexico.

At least 129 people were hospitalized during the outbreak, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The agency said no deaths were reported.

ProSource indicated that the onions were last imported on Aug. 27, according to the CDC, but the onions can be stored for up to three months and can still be in homes and businesses, the CDC said.

The FDA has advised restaurants, retailers and consumers not to eat, sell, or serve red, yellow, and white onions supplied by ProSource that were imported from Chihuahua between July 1 and August 27, or products containing these onions.

ProSource, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment Wednesday night, agreed to voluntarily withdraw the onion, the FDA said.

Onions may have labels or packaging indicating the brand (ProSource Inc.) and the country, Mexico, where it was grown.

The CDC also urged consumers to throw away all red, white, or yellow onions that are at home that do not have a sticker or packaging indicating their origin.

Consumers and businesses should also wash and disinfect any surfaces that may have come in contact with onions imported from Chihuahua and distributed by ProSource, the CDC said.

Salmonella, a type of bacteria, causes an estimated 1.35 million illnesses, 26,500 hospitalizations and 420 deaths a year, according to the CDC.

Most people with salmonellosis, an infection with salmonella, develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps. More serious cases can lead to high fever, pain, headaches, lethargy, rash, blood in the urine or stool, and in some cases can be fatal.

An onion-related Salmonella outbreak between June and October 2020 caused more than 1,600 diseases in the U.S. and Canada, according to the FDA. No one has died as a result of the outbreak, officials said.

The FDA said an investigation has identified this outbreak down to a whole red onion supplied by Thomson International Inc., which is headquartered in Bakersfield, California and has additional facilities in Holtville, California.

While no definitive root cause could be established, the investigation has put forward a “leading hypothesis” that contaminated irrigation water used in growing fields in Holtville could have contaminated the onions, the FDA said.

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