Throw Out Your Onions, FDA Says


Illustration for article titled Throw Out Your Onions, FDA Says
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Do you have an onion in your kitchen? Yep, me too. Pop quiz: What farm or distributor did that onion come from? If you can’t answer that question, you should probably throw it out.

The FDA and CDC announced on July 31 that they have tracked down a Salmonella outbreak in red onions to one “likely source”: a California supplier named Thomson International Inc.

For more on foods to keep on hand, check out the video below:

If you remember the romaine lettuce recalls of 2018 and 2019, the next part will sound familiar: Throw out your red, yellow, white or sweet onions unless you are sure that they don’t come from Thomson International. So far, the outbreak has sickened people in 11 states.

So if you grew your onions yourself, or if your grocery store specifically said these are Pennsylvania onions, or if your onions still have the sticker on them and it says where they’re from, they’re safe. In any other case, the FDA advises that you’re better safe than sorry.

Salmonella is killed by cooking, so if you already ate the onion but you cooked it first, you’ll probably be okay. But we don’t normally handle onions the way we do raw meat, being careful to avoid contamination, so if you have a suspicious onion I would honestly just chuck it. Definitely don’t eat it raw, even if you’re pretty sure you had some already and were fine.

Salmonella sometimes takes a few days after ingestion to start making you feel sick; the CDC lists an incubation period of 6 to 72 hours. If you think you are sick, the CDC advises seeking healthcare and writing down everything you can remember eating before you got sick. You or your doctor should report your case to the local health department, and somebody will probably call you to ask about what you had been eating in the week before you got sick. Similar to contact tracing, this process helps to figure out how the outbreak is spreading, and your answers could help prevent other people from getting sick.