Updated February 2, 2022, with final information from the CDC.
A Salmonella outbreak linked to onions imported from Chihuahua, Mexico has ended after sickening at least 1040 people, according to the latest update from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Twenty illness clusters were linked to restaurant and foodservice items containing these raw, imported onions that were distributed in the U.S. by ProSource Inc. of Hailey, Idaho, and Keeler Family Farms in Deming, NM. At least 260 people were hospitalized. Several onion recalls have been issued.
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Imported Onion Salmonella Recalls
ProSource Onion Recall
The ProSource onion Salmonella recall includes red, white, and yellow recalled onions from Chihuahua, Mexico. These onions were shipped to wholesalers, broadline foodservice customers, meal kit companies such as HelloFresh, and EverPlate and retail stores including Target and Walmart between July 1, 2021, and August 31, 2021. They were sold under the brand names Big Bull, Peak Fresh Produce, Sierra Madre, Markon First Crop., Markon Essentials, Rio Blue, ProSource, Rio Valley, and Sysco Imperial. They were packaged in 50-lb., 25 lb., 10- lb., 5-lb., 3-lb., and 2 lb mesh sacks; and in 50-lb., 40-lb., 25-lb., 10-lb., and 5 lb. cartons.
The ProSource onion recall triggered secondary recalls from Walmart, Target, HelloFresh, EveryPlate, and Green Giant.
Green Giant Onion Recall
Because ProSource was one of its onion suppliers, Potandon Produce L.L.C. of Idaho Falls, Idaho issued a recall for Green Giant Fresh whole onions The recalled onions potentially contaminated with Salmonella were sent to UNFI distribution centers in Fargo, North Dakota; Bismarck, North Dakota, and Hopkins, Minnesota between July 9, 2021, and August 6, 2021. The recall includes yellow, white, and red onions sold in 2-lb., 3-lb. and 5-lb. bags. An expansion of this recall was issued on November 15, 2021.
Keeler Onion Recall
The Keeler onion Salmonella recall includes red, yellow, and white onions shipped from Chihuahua, Mexico from July 1, 2021, through August 25, 2021. Processed at Keeler Family Farms in Deming, NM. they were packaged in 25-lb. and 50-lb. mesh sacks with the brand name MVP and “product of MX” on the label. The last shipment was received on August 25, 2021. The recalled MVP onions were distributed to wholesalers, restaurants, and retail stores in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
It Began as a “Mystery Salmonella Outbreak”
When this outbreak was first announced in mid-September 2021, health officials did not know the food source of this fast-growing “mystery Salmonella outbreak.” They studied the restaurant illness clusters to identify common ingredients in foods the sick people ate. Many reported eating food served at Mexican-style restaurants that contained onions, cilantro, pepper, and lime.
On September 24, 2021, the CDC reported that tests on a condiment cup from a takeout meal eaten by one of the outbreak patients were positive for the outbreak strain of Salmonella Oranienburg. The cup originally contained onions, cilantro, and lime, but at the time it was tested no onions were left in the cup. Because foods contaminated with bacteria can cross-contaminate foods and surfaces they touch, health officials said any of the three ingredients could be the source of the outbreak.
Most Salmonella Onion Outbreaks Are Linked to Restaurant Food
Salmonella outbreaks linked to restaurant food containing onions are common. Between 2009 and 2018, there have been nine onion Salmonella outbreaks, according to CDC data. Of the eight outbreaks where a setting was identified, six were linked to restaurants.
In 2020, another Salmonella outbreak linked to onions was reported. That outbreak, linked to onions produced by Thompson International of Bakersfield, CA, also included clusters of illness linked to restaurants. The outbreak included illnesses in the U.S. and Canada. In the U.S., 1,127 people in 48 states were sickened and 167 hospitalized. In Canada, another 515 illnesses were reported.
Onion Salmonella Outbreak
On September 10, 2021, the Grundy County Health Department in Illinois announced that, along with the CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it was investigating a Salmonella outbreak at La Mex restaurant in Morris, IL that may be part of a multistate outbreak. The outbreak included customers who had dined at the restaurant between August 31, 2021, and September 7, 2021. A connection to this onion Salmonella outbreak was not publicly disclosed. Health officials have not released the names of any restaurants associated with this outbreak but that does not preclude people sickened in this outbreak from filing a Salmonella lawsuit.
Symptoms of a Salmonella infection include abdominal cramps, nausea, fever, vomiting, and diarrhea that is sometimes bloody. These symptoms usually develop within six to 72 hours of eating contaminated food. The people sickened in this outbreak, who range in age from less than 1 year old to 101 years old, said their illnesses first began on dates ranging from May 31, 2021, to January 1, 2022.
The 1040 illnesses in this outbreak were reported from 37 states, Puerto Rico and Washington D.C. The number of illnesses reported from each state is: Alabama (7), Arkansas (19), California (15), Colorado (3), Connecticut (5), Florida (75), Georgia (5), Hawaii (1), Illinois (54), Indiana (2), Iowa (4), Kansas (17), Kentucky (10), Louisiana (8), Maryland (66), Massachusetts (15), Michigan (12), Minnesota (27), Mississippi (3), Missouri (59), Nebraska (10), New Jersey (5), New Mexico (16), New York (23), North Carolina (26), North Dakota (4), Ohio (8), Oklahoma (129), Oregon (2), Pennsylvania (13), Puerto Rico (4) South Carolina (7), South Dakota (9), Tennessee (19), Texas (248), Utah (3), Virginia (71), Washington (1), Washington DC (1), West Virginia (1), and Wisconsin (31).
Experienced Salmonella Lawyers
If you developed a Salmonella infection and would like a free consultation with an experienced Salmonella lawyer, please contact us. The Pritzker Hageman Salmonella Legal Team has represented clients in every major Salmonella outbreak in the U.S. You can reach us by calling 1-888-377-8900, sending a text to 612-261-0856, or by completing the form below. There is no obligation and we don’t get paid unless we win.
This post was published October 21, 2021, and updated on October 29, 2021, to include new information about the outbreak.
This post was updated on November 17, 2021, to include updated cases numbers.
This post was updated on February 2. 2022 to reflect information from the CDC’s final update.