There are now 120 confirmed cases in Canada, according to the CFIA, and investigators have determined that the potentially contaminated red onions are from Thomson International Inc. of Bakersfield, California.
The investigation determined that red onions are the “probable source” of the outbreak, but Thomson International Inc. has recalled all varieties of onions that may have come into contact with potentially contaminated red onions, due to the risk of cross contamination. Other onion varieties include white, yellow, and mild yellow onions.
Health officials are warning Canadians not to eat raw onions imported from U.S. retailers. The CFIA says onions grown in Canada are not affected by the potential Salmonella outbreak.
“In light of this new information and until more is known about the outbreak, do not eat, use, sell or serve Thomson International yellow red, white, yellow and sweet onions. Inc., Bakersfield, California, United States, or any product. made with these onions, ”says the CFIA website. “These tips apply to everyone across Canada, as well as retailers, distributors, manufacturers and catering establishments such as hotels, restaurants, cafeterias, hospitals and nursing homes.
Those who fell ill reported eating red onions in restaurants, residential care facilities and at home. People fell ill between mid-June and mid-July 2020. There have been 17 hospitalizations linked to this epidemic and no deaths.
The 120 cases are distributed across the country as follows:
- Alberta: 56
- British Columbia: 43
- Manitoba: 13
- Saskatchewan: 4
- Ontario: 2
- Québec: 1
- Prince Edward Island: 1
Restaurants and retailers are also advised not to use, sell, or serve red onions imported from the United States.
Symptoms of a Salmonella infection usually begin six to 72 hours after exposure to a contaminated product and can include fever, chills, diarrhea, cramps, vomiting, and nausea.
Most people who get sick from an infection make a full recovery within days, according to health officials, although individuals can be contagious for several weeks.
Infants, children, the elderly, and people with weakened immune systems are most at risk of developing serious illnesses from Salmonella infections.
It is difficult to know if a product is contaminated with Salmonella because you cannot see, smell or taste it.
To reduce the risk of Salmonella, the following food safety tips are offered by public health officials:
- Wash your hands with soap and lukewarm water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling fresh produce.
- Cut off any bruised or damaged areas on fresh produce, as harmful bacteria can grow in these areas.
- Wash fresh produce thoroughly under cool, cool running water, even if you plan to peel it.
- Do not soak fresh produce in a sink full of water.
- Use a clean brush to scrub items that have firm surfaces like cucumbers, oranges, melons, potatoes, carrots.
- Use one cutting board for produce and another for raw meat, poultry, fish, and seafood.
- Place peeled or cut fruits and vegetables on a separate clean plate.
- Use paper towels to wipe down kitchen surfaces or change the tea towels daily.
- Sanitize counters, cutting boards and utensils before and after preparing food.
With files from Hanna McLean