Odds are you probably have onions in your kitchen right now, because an onion is one of the few ingredients that can finagle its way into almost every recipe. Onions are a flavorful background upon which we can built such extraordinary meals, so the news that the onions currently sitting upon our countertops may be contaminated with salmonella stings a hell of a lot harder than most other food recalls.
The CDC is urging all Americans to inspect their onion stores, which may be linked to a salmonella outbreak that has thus far sickened over 250 people. This warning applies to all fresh yellow, red, and white onions, particularly ones that were not sold in prepackaged bags.
The contaminated onions were imported from Chihuahua, Mexico, and distributed by ProSource Inc. to grocery stores and restaurants throughout the United States. The company reports that the last time it imported the onions was on August 27, but as onions can last several months in storage, there’s a chance the salmonella-tainted alliums may still be lurking in home and restaurant kitchens.
The CDC reports the first case of onion-related salmonella poisoning was reported on September 1. Since then, there have been 652 reported cases across 37 states. The highest number of infections were reported in Texas, Oklahoma, Virginia, Maryland, and Illinois had the highest number of cases that were formally reported; here’s the full list of states that are tied to cases of salmonella:
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia
Of the reported cases, only 129 people have been hospitalized, and thankfully, no one has died. If you have any reason to suspect your current onion stash of being part of the recall, throw them away. The CDC also recommends to wash and sanitize any surfaces or containers that may have come in contact with them.
If you have had a mysterious bout of food poisoning this year and believe it may have been connected to the tainted onions, you can report it to the CDC via the agency’s website. Symptoms of salmonella poisoning include diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps, and exhibit anywhere between six hours to six days of being exposed to the bacteria. The illness normally lasts between four and seven days, with most people making a full recovering without medical treatment.