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Sysco Recalls Red Onions in Salmonella Outbreak

Posted in Our Blog,Outbreaks & Recalls,Salmonella on July 31, 2020

Residents of the US and Canada – we know have a source in the mystery Salmonella outbreak. Red onions! According to the CDC, 212 Americans are sick in this outbreak and 114 cases in Canada according to the Public Health Agency of Canada. PHA confirmed that they discovered the source of the outbreak just yesterday. Now, US distributor Sysco recalls red onions in Canada. But what about the US?

Here is everything we know about this Salmonella Outbreak and this recall:

The Recall

According to the Government of Canada:

“Sysco is recalling red onions imported from the USA from the marketplace due to possible Salmonella contamination. Consumers should not consume the recalled products described below or foods containing these raw red onions. Food service establishments, institutions, retailers, distributors and manufacturers should not serve, use, or sell the recalled products described below. These may also have been purchased from Sysco on-line or through various restaurant locations.

Sysco is recalling red onions in Western Canada through the following Sysco locations: Victoria, Vancouver, Kelowna, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg and Regina. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) will continue its investigation into other possible importers and additional recalls may follow.”

The agency confirmed that this recall was triggered by findings by the CFIA during its investigation into a foodborne illness outbreak. The CFIA is conducting a food safety investigation, which may lead to the recall of other products. If other high-risk products are recalled, the CFIA will notify the public through updated Food Recall Warnings.

The CFIA is verifying that industry is removing the recalled products from the marketplace.

Recalled products

Brand Product Size Codes Additional information
IMPERIAL FRESH Red Onions – Jumbo 10 lb. Product code 8399925 All products imported since May 24, 2020
IMPERIAL FRESH Red Onions – Jumbo 25 lb. Product code 8313967 All products imported since May 24, 2020

The Canadian agencies have taken to Twitter to get the news out:

The Salmonella Outbreak in US and Canada

As of July 30, 2020, there have been 114 confirmed cases of Salmonella Newport illness linked to this outbreak in the following provinces: British Columbia (43), Alberta (55), Manitoba (13), Ontario (2), and Prince Edward Island (1). The individual from Prince Edward Island reported traveling to Alberta before becoming ill. Saskatchewan has not reported any confirmed illnesses related to this outbreak, but provincial public health authorities are investigating some Salmonella Newport illnesses in the province.

Individuals became sick between mid-June and mid-July 2020. Information is available for 102 illnesses. Out of 102 people, 16 individuals have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported. Individuals who became ill are between 3 and 100 years of age. The majority of cases (56%) are female.

Individuals who became ill reported eating red onions at home, in menu items ordered at restaurants and in residential care settings.

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) is conducting a food safety investigation. If contaminated food products are identified, CFIA will take the necessary steps to protect the public, including recalling the product as required.

Figure 1: Number of people infected with Salmonella Newport

In the US, the CDC’s latest update includes:

Graph image of people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella

  • Since our last update on July 21, 2020, an additional 87 ill people have been reported in this outbreak, including 38 from 8 new states: Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Maine, North Dakota, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Virginia.
  • A total of 212 people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Newport have been reported from 23 states.
    • 31 hospitalizations have been reported. No deaths have been reported.
  • A specific food, grocery store, or restaurant chain has not been identified as the source of this outbreak.
  • CDC is not advising that consumers avoid eating any specific foods, or that retailers stop selling any specific foods.
  • This investigation is ongoing. CDC will provide more information as it becomes available.

It is possible that more recent illnesses may be reported in the outbreak because there is a period of time between when a person becomes ill and when the illness is reported to public health officials. For this outbreak, the illness reporting period is between two and four weeks.

Salmonella Symptoms

Salmonella is no joke when it comes to illness and can cause salmonellosis which is one of the most common bacterial foodborne illnesses.

Salmonella infection is usually caused by eating raw or undercooked meat, poultry, eggs or egg products. The incubation period ranges from several hours to two days. Most salmonella infections can be classified as stomach flu (gastroenteritis). Possible signs and symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Headache
  • Blood in the stool

Signs and symptoms of salmonella infection generally last two to seven days. Diarrhea may last up to 10 days, although it may take several months before bowels return to normal.

A few varieties of salmonella bacteria result in typhoid fever, a sometimes deadly disease that is more common in developing countries.

Most people recover without treatment. In some persons, however, the diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized. Older adults, infants, and persons with weakened immune systems are more likely to develop a severe illness. Individuals concerned about an illness should contact their health care provider.

What should you do to protect your health?

It is a good idea to check your home for red onions, including whole, sliced, or chopped, as well as prepared foods that contain red onions as an ingredient, such as pre-made salads, sandwiches, wraps, or dips.

The PHA of Canada recommends:

  • If you have red onions at home:
    • Look for a label showing where the red onion was grown. It may be printed on the package or on a sticker.
    • If the packaging or sticker shows that it is from the U.S., don’t eat it. Throw it away and wash your hands.
    • If it isn’t labeled, don’t eat it. Throw it away and wash your hands.
    • If you don’t know whether the red onion found in a pre-made salad, sandwich, wrap or dip contains red onion from the U.S., don’t eat it. Throw it away and wash your hands.
    • Wash and sanitize drawers or shelves in areas (such as fridges and cupboards) where red onions were stored.
  • If you buy red onions at a store:
    • Look for a label showing where the red onion was grown. It may be printed on the package or on a sticker.
    • If the packaging shows that it is from the U.S., don’t buy it.
    • If it is an unpackaged product, or is not labelled, ask the retailer whether the red onion comes from the U.S.
    • If you can’t confirm that the red onion in stores is not from the U.S., don’t buy it.
  • If you order salad or any other food item containing red onions at a restaurant or food establishment, ask the staff whether the red onions come from the U.S. If they did, or they don’t know, don’t eat it.
  • Restaurants and retailers should check the label on bags or boxes of red onions, or ask their suppliers about the source of their red onions.
  • Suppliers, distributors and others in the supply chain should not ship or sell red onions imported from the U.S.
  • If you have been diagnosed with a Salmonella infection or any other gastrointestinal illness, do not cook food for other people.
  • Contact your local public health authority to report any food safety concerns at restaurants or grocery stores, or if you suspect food poisoning from a restaurant or other food establishments.

How The Lange Law Firm Can Help

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

If you got sick in this latest Salmonella Outbreak or from the Sysco red onions recall and are interested in making a legal claim for compensation, we can help.  Our Salmonella lawyer can help you pursue compensation for your Salmonella food poisoning.  Call us for a free no obligation legal consultation at (833) 330-3663 or send us an e-mail here.

By: Candess Zona-Mendola