KEY POINTS

  • The CDC announced nearly 400 people in 34 states came down with salmonella infection
  • Around 59 of those infected were admitted to hospitals
  • The organization suspects the infection to have originated from red onions  ​

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is now advising consumers to avoid white, yellow and sweet yellow onions after its investigation pointed to red onions as the possible origin of the salmonella outbreak that affected several people.

The CDC announced Friday, July 28, that nearly 400 people in 34 states came down with salmonella infection since July 10, which the organization suspects to have originated from red onions. Around 59 of those infected were admitted to hospitals, CNBC News reported.

Salmonella bacteria can cause symptoms like stomach cramps, fever and diarrhea, between six hours and six days after exposure, the CDC revealed in a statement. Initially, only a few cases in three states were reported July 10. 

salmonella bacteria outbreak salmonella bacteria outbreak Photo: WikiImages - Pixabay

CDC officials identified red onion, which originated from Thomas International in Bakersfield, California, as the likely source of the salmonella infection. On Saturday, Aug. 1, the company recalled its red, white, yellow and sweet yellow onions that were shipped out after May 1.

The onions were reportedly distributed to wholesalers, retail stores and restaurants in different locations within the contiguous United States, including Washington D.C., and in the neighboring country of Canada. Thomson International, on Aug. 1, issued a voluntary recall of the vegetable sold under brand names Kroger, Hartley's Best, Food Lion, Thomson Premium and Imperial Fresh.

The onions were in cartons with weights ranging from five to 50 pounds, as well as in mesh sacks of varying weights when they were shipped out .

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), along with the CDC, is investigating the salmonella outbreak. According to the federal agency, they have not pinpointed yet which onion shipment is contaminated or the source of the contamination.

While the CDC linked the outbreak to red onions, the scientific body recommends avoiding yellow, white and sweet onions shipped by Thomson International. Consumers can verify the origins of the shipment by checking the sticker or packaging on the produce. If the onions are from Thomson, or if it is not possible to determine their origin, the CDC advises everyone to throw the vegetables away as they may be contaminated.

The scientific body also added people should avoid foods prepared with onions that came from Thomson. While most people recover from salmonella infection even without treatment, severe cases may require antibiotics and hospitalization.