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First Federal Lawsuit Filed in Oregon Salmonella Onion Outbreak

Posted in Our Blog,Outbreaks & Recalls,Salmonella on August 3, 2020

Salmonella Lawyer Files First Federal Salmonella Lawsuit in Salmonella Onion Outbreak

On August 3, 2020, national food safety lawyer Jory Lange of the Lange Law Firm, PLLC and prominent Portland consumer protection attorney David Sugerman, of David F. Sugerman, Attorney PC have filed the first federal Salmonella lawsuit in the Oregon Salmonella Onion Outbreak linked to onions that has swept across the nation and Canada. The lawsuit again names Thomson International, Inc. as defendant. The lawsuit is filed on behalf of an Oregon woman who ate onions and later became ill with Salmonella.

Salmonella in Onions Outbreak

The wonders of worldwide trade and modern technology mean we have access to fresh produce year-round.

Just last week,  the CDC and FDA announced an outbreak of Salmonella Newport illnesses linked to onion products manufactured by Thomson International, Inc. As of today, there are 396 total illnesses in the United States including 59 hospitalizations.  States with cases include: AK (6), AZ (14), CA (49), CO (10), FL (3), ID (5), IL (10), IN (2), IA (15), KS (1), KY (1), ME (4), MD (1), MI (23), MN (10), MO (6), MT (33), NE (5), NV (5), NY (4), NC (3), ND (5), OH (7), OR (71), PA (2), SC (1), SD (11), TN (5), TX (1), UT (61), VA (4), WA (2), WI (5), and WY (11).

Graphic of the U.S. map with persons infected by state of residence, as of July 29, 2020.

In Canada, 120 people are confirmed sick in 7 providences: British Columbia (43), Alberta (56), Saskatchewan (4), Manitoba (13), Ontario (2), Quebec (1) and Prince Edward Island (1).

Figure 1: Number of people infected with Salmonella Newport

And the outbreak numbers are likely to rise. The latest cases in the US reported they were sick in mid-July 202 – weeks before the recall was announced. Due to the time it takes to report illnesses, 2-4 weeks, we will likely see more confirmed cases before the end of August.

Salmonella Onion Recall

The same day, Thomson international, Inc. announced a voluntary recall of various onion products.

The onions were distributed in 5 lbs. carton. 10 lbs. carton. 25 lbs. carton. 40 lbs. carton, 50 lbs. carton. bulk, 2 lb. mesh sacks, and 3 lb. mesh sacks, 5 lb. mesh sacks, 10 lb. mesh sacks 25 lbs. mesh sacks, 50 lbs. mesh sacks under the brand names Thomson  Premium, TLC Thomson International, Tender Loving Care, El Competitor, Hartley’s Best, Onions 52, Majestic, Imperial Fresh, Kroger, Utah Onions and Food Lion.

Onions grown in Canada are not affected by this advice.

Pictures of the recalled products can be found here:

Understanding Your Foe, Salmonella

The CDC estimates that roughly 1 million cases of Salmonella poisoning in the US are caused by contaminated food. Resulting in 19,000 hospitalizations and 380 deaths.

Salmonella Symptoms

Most people who contract Salmonella poisoning develop diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps 12 to 72 hours after infection. Illness lingers typically 4 to 7 days, and most people recover without treatment. Sometimes the symptoms are so severe that the sick person must be hospitalized.

In rare circumstances, infection with Salmonella can spread from the intestines to the blood, and from there to other parts of the body, producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections (i.e., infected aneurysms), endocarditis and arthritis. In these cases, Salmonella can cause death unless it’s treated with antibiotics. Reactive arthritis is very difficult to treat and may last for months or years. It does not matter if you treated salmonellosis with antibiotics or not. Some people who develop reactive arthritis also develop irritation in the eyes and also painful urination.

Who is Most at Risk of Salmonella Infection?

Anyone can become sick with a Salmonella infection, but young children aged 5 years and under, elderly adults, pregnant women or people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk for contracting serious illness.

Most people who become ill from a Salmonella infection will recover fully after a few days, but those who are high risk may have more severe illnesses.

Serious Complications of Salmonella Illnesses

Reactive Arthritis is a painful form of inflammatory arthritis that can affect the joints, heels, toes, fingers, and knees. Reactive Arthritis is a chronic and systemic rheumatic disease. It is referred to as ‘reactive’ because it happens when the immune system seems to be ‘reacting’ to the presence of (or recovery from) a bacterial infection in another body system. This disorder typically develops as a complication from an infection in another part of the body, such as ShigellaCampylobacterSalmonellaYersinia, or Clostridium foodborne illnesses. The condition can be temporary or last for months or even years.

In a study done by Washington state, 29% of patients developed arthritis following Salmonella gastroenteritis infection.

You can read more about Reactive Arthritis here.

Health Agency Recommendations

According to the FDA, “Consumers, restaurants, and retailers should not eat, sell, or serve red, white, yellow, or sweet onions from Thomson International, Inc. or products containing such onions. If you cannot tell if your onion is from Thomson International Inc., or your food product contains such onions, you should not eat, sell, or serve it, and should throw it out.”

The CDC recommends, “At home, check your refrigerator and kitchen for recalled onions or foods made with them, such as salads, wraps, tacos, sandwiches, etc. Check the package or look for a sticker on the onion to see if it is from Thomson International, Inc., or one of the brand names below. If it is, don’t eat it. Throw it away.”

The Lange Law Firm Helps Families  

Our mission is to help families who have been harmed by contaminated food or water.  When corporations cause Salmonella food poisoning outbreaks or Legionnaires’ disease outbreaks, we use the law to hold them accountable.  The Lange Law Firm, PLLC is the only law firm in the nation solely focused on representing families in food poisoning lawsuits and Legionnaires disease lawsuits.

If you were infected with Salmonella after eating onions and are interested in making a legal claim for compensation, we have a Salmonella lawyer ready to help you.  Call us for a free no obligation legal consultation at (833) 330-3663 or send us an e-mail here.

By: Candess Zona-Mendola