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CDC Warns Shoppers to Avoid Certain Brands of Onions

 Though the coronavirus might be the illness constantly on our minds, it is unfortunately not the only dangerous ailment floating around right now. Numerous cases of salmonella have been popping up in dozens of states across America. Salmonella has always been around and it is typically linked to the consumption of raw chicken or tainted eggs. Other studies linked the outbreaks to the presence of live ducks and chickens in people's backyards. However, this most recent outbreak, which has affected nearly 700 people, putting over 60 in the hospital, has been linked by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to certain brands of onions. 

CDC Links shipment of onions from Thomas International Inc., and other brands to salmonella outbreak

One California-based supplier, Thomson International Inc. has issued a voluntary recall of a shipment of onions and products made thereof due to the recent outbreaks of salmonella across the country. The recall was initiated as the outbreaks occurred, so the CDC has issued a warning to all residents, restaurant owners and retailers to check for any of the 11 brands under Thomas International Inc., which include: 

1. Utah Onions
2. Thomson Premium
3. TLC Thomson International 
4. Imperial Fresh
5. Tender Loving Care 
6. Hartley’s Best 
7. El Competitor 
8. Food Lion 
9. Onions 52 
10. Majestic 
11. Kroger

The CDC tracked the initial supply of potentially tainted onions to a shipment sent out on May 1st, 2020, and included yellow, red, white, and sweet onions. They were distributed in 5 cartons weighing 50 pounds and 2 mesh sacks weighing 50 pounds. It is not only the shipments of Thomas International Inc. that have been conclusively determined to contain traces of salmonella. The bacteria can be spread by both direct and indirect contact, increasing the risk of other onions in the same shipments or containers also potentially having carried the bacterium.

CDC Links shipment of onions from Thomas International Inc., and other brands to salmonella outbreak

A voluntary recall was additionally issued by Taylor Farms. Giant Eagle has also recalled onions and food products made from onions distributed in stores across Maryland, West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, and Pennsylvania. Bulk quantities of onions have further been recalled by Publix from shops in Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia, Alabama, and both North and South Carolina. All voluntary recalls were announced in the first week of August 2020, along with a public health alert on products made with recalled onions issued by the United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (USDA-FSIS).

While the outbreak has spread across numerous different states, the highest number of cases are concentrated in California, Oregon, Utah, and Montana. Salmonella usually presents within 24 to 72 hours of exposure to the infected item. Affected persons develop symptoms like fever, diarrhea, vomiting, and severe abdominal cramps, which usually last for up to 7 days after which, most people recover on their own. 

There are risks that the bacteria will spread to other parts of the body from the intestines via the bloodstream. People with comprised immune systems as well as elderly persons and young children are extremely susceptible to these complications, which can result in hospitalization. If you or anyone you know are presenting any of the above symptoms, seek medical attention immediately.  

CDC Links shipment of onions from Thomas International Inc., and other brands to salmonella outbreak

The CDC has accordingly issued a number of guidelines to be followed by people for avoiding possibly tainted products and keeping their space sanitized and safe. Check your current brand of onions and ensure it is not on the list of those recalled. In case you do not know the brand, throw the onions away. Similarly, if you are unable to determine the brand of onion sold at your local grocery store, do not purchase it. 

Also raid your fridge and pantry for different items that contain onions, such as salsa, salads, dips, and restaurant items that have any of the above brands of onion listed as an ingredient. If you at any point have purchased onions from Thomas International Inc., or one of the other brands of recalled onions, carefully sanitize the storage area of the onions and all surrounding surfaces. Similar instructions have also been given to all retailers, distributors, and restaurants to sanitize the respective storage bins.

While only a few major companies have initiated a recall of their onions, it is still vital to stay vigilant.
Be sure to read through the products listed by the CDC, and keep an eye on the products you purchase at a grocery stores or restaurants that may contain onions. And err on the side of caution. Ask grocery store and restaurant management which brands of onions they use, and as the CDC says, “If they don’t know where their onions are from, don’t buy the product.”.  

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