Although the two agencies have named red onions as a likely source of the Salmonella Newport that's sickened more than 500 people, Thomson International recalled all red, yellow, white and sweet onions it shipped since May 1, covering many labels and pack sizes. They went to retailers, foodservice operators and wholesalers in all 50 states and Canada, according to the Thomson International recall notice posted on the FDA website.
The CFIA on July 30 announced a recall of Imperial Fresh brand red onions from Thomson International that had been distributed by Sysco in Canada. On July 31, Thomson International followed, recalling red onions distributed through Onions 52 Inc., Syracuse, Utah, according to an Onions 52 news release. On Aug. 1, Thomson International posted the expanded recall notice on the FDA site and the CFIA announced the recall of all Thomson International onions.
An FDA update on its investigation on July 30, and Thomson International's Aug. 1 recall notice, advised consumers not to eat any onions from Thomson International involved in the recall, and if the supplier of onions was unknown, not to eat or serve them.
The recall includes onions packed in 5-, 10-, 25-, 40- and 50-pound cartons; and 2-, 3-, 5-, 10-, 25- and 50-pound mesh sacks.
Brands in the recall are: Thomson Premium, TLC Thomson International, Tender Loving Care, El Competitor, Hartley's Best, Onions 52, Majestic, Imperial Fresh, Kroger, Utah Onions and Food Lion. Meal kit company HelloFresh also advised consumers to throw away any onions received from the company from June 25 to July 31.
According to an Onions 52 news release on the July 31 recall, food safety authorities said according to epidemiological evidence:
- Red onions are the most likely source, but other onion varieties are being investigated;
- Thomson International onions are a possible source, but that’s not certain;
- As of July 31, no other onion growers had recalled onions; and
- The FDA is investigating other potential sources, but there are no conclusions.
The FDA reported that Thomson International red onions were a likely source of salmonella cases, but the investigation was continuing.
As of July 31, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported 396 cases in 34 states. The CDC and public health authorities first detected cases on July 10, and the number of illnesses continue to rise rapidly. Canadian officials had reported 114 cases.
The FDA is advising suppliers and distributors in the supply chain that repack onions to “use extra vigilance” in cleaning surfaces that might have come into contact with onions from Thomson International.
“As an organization we take matters of food safety extremely seriously,” Onions 52 President Trent Hartley said in the release. “We believe our food safety and facilities maintenance processes exceed industry standards, as our prior record indicates.
"We are deeply concerned about this unfortunate outbreak of illness and are relieved that no lives have been lost,” he said in the release. “We are taking every measure and precaution available to us in order to protect our customers and the public.”