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Montana DPHHS reports salmonella cases linked to recalled onions

Recalled Onions
Posted at 1:13 PM, Aug 05, 2020
and last updated 2020-08-06 00:47:36-04

HELENA — Public health officials are investigating 52 reports of confirmed and suspected Salmonella Newport illnesses in Montana linked to onions from Thomson International, Inc.

The illnesses began as far back as June 21, 2020, and continue to be reported.

Local investigations have confirmed that ill individuals often consumed the recalled onions at restaurants, according to the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS).

Confirmed and suspected cases have been identified in 16 counties across Montana and include 12 hospitalizations.

The affected counties include Beaverhead, Big Horn, Carbon, Cascade, Deer Lodge, Fergus, Flathead, Gallatin, Hill, Jefferson, Lake, Lewis and Clark, Missoula, Park, Ravalli, and Yellowstone.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is reporting 396 cases in 34 states, with a total of 59 hospitalizations and no deaths.

Health officials are advising consumers, retailers, and restaurants not to eat, sell, or serve onions from Thomson International.

The onions may also be listed under the following brand names:

  • Thomson Premium
  • TLC Thomson International
  • Tender Loving Care
  • El Competitor
  • Hartley’s Best
  • Onions 52
  • Majestic
  • Imperial Fresh
  • Kroger
  • Utah Onions
  • Food Lion

“If you cannot tell where your onions are from, throw them away,” said Rachel Hinnenkamp with the DPHHS Communicable Disease Epidemiology Section.

Symptoms of a Salmonella infection vary for each person but often include a sudden onset of diarrhea, abdominal pain, fever, nausea, and vomiting. Some people may experience dehydration, which can be severe.

Most people with a Salmonella infection start feeling sick six hours to six days after eating or drinking something that contains the bacteria and typically recover without needing treatment within four-to-seven days.

Click here for more information and pictures of the recalled product.

DPHHS Advice to Consumers:

  • Check your refrigerator and kitchen at home for recalled onions or foods made with them. This could include tacos, sandwiches, salads, wraps, salsas, dips, etc.
  • If you used onions to make food, but don’t know where the onions are from, throw the food away. Do not eat it, even if no one has gotten sick.
  • Wash and sanitize any surfaces that may have come in contact with onions or their packaging, such as countertops, refrigerator shelves and drawers, knives, and cutting boards.
  • When you eat out or shop for food, make sure that the onions are not distributed by Thomson International, Inc.
  • If you are experiencing symptoms of a Salmonella infection, talk to your healthcare provider. Write down what you ate in the week before you got sick. If you are tested and have Salmonella, your local health department will call you for an interview to ask you about foods you ate before you got sick.

DPHHS Advice to Restaurants, Retailers, and Suppliers:

  • On August 1, 2020, Thomson International, Inc. voluntarily recalled red, yellow, white, and sweet yellow onions because they may be contaminated with Salmonella.
  • Traceback information from cases identified that red onions from the company’s farm in Bakersfield, CA are the likely source of the outbreak. However, because of the way onions are grown and harvested, the company voluntarily recalled yellow, white, and sweet onions as well.
  • Do not serve or sell these onions, or food prepared with them.
  • Clean and sanitize all areas these onions have come in contact with, including countertops, cutting boards, utensils, and storage bins.