Onion-linked salmonella: US FDA launches probe as hundreds fall ill
Hundreds have fallen sick in the United States after a massive salmonella outbreak reported across 37 states in the country. The infections are reportedly linked to raw onions, and the government has advised people to throw away all unlabeled red, white, and yellow onions as a preventive measure. Notably, the infections were recorded between May 31 and September 30. Here are more details.
Why does this story matter?
Over 650 people across the 37 US states have contracted salmonella. Reportedly, 75% of them fell sick after consuming onions. US agencies have launched an investigation into the cause of the outbreak. The news of the salmonella outbreak comes at a time when the US is planning a gradual reopening for international travelers. The country had seen the world's deadliest COVID-19 outbreak.
652 sick, 129 hospitalized
At least 652 people have been reported sick and 129 have been hospitalized. Salmonella is a bacterial infection affecting the intestinal tract. The symptoms include diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps that start six hours to six days after eating contaminated food. The number of infections could be much higher as many cases are going unreported, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said.
75% infected after eating raw onions: CDC
The CDC said 75% of the patients contracted salmonella after consuming raw onions or "dishes likely containing raw onions." It said, "Several ill people reported eating at the same restaurants, indicating they may be part of illness clusters."
Disease origins traced to Mexico
The CDC said that it had traced one source of infections to onions imported from Chihuahua, Mexico. These onions were distributed by a Hailey-based firm named ProSource Inc. ProSource has voluntarily agreed to suspend all its imports from Chihuahua from July 1 through August 27, US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Deputy Commissioner (Food Policy and Response) Frank Yiannas said.
CDC issues preventive advisory
The CDC has advised citizens to not buy onions imported from Chihuahua. People have been asked to toss all unlabeled red, white, and yellow onions. All surfaces and containers that have touched onions must be washed using hot soapy water or a dishwasher.
Joint FDA-CDC probe launched
FDA's Yiannas said the agency has launched an investigation into the outbreak in collaboration with the CDC and local authorities. "We are issuing this update early in our investigation as part of our continued commitment to transparency and early communication," Yiannas told Reuters. More updates on the outbreak would follow as the investigation proceeds, he added.