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'When in doubt, throw them out': Experts say you should throw out onions if you can't identify where they came from – as 879 people and counting are now sick amid a salmonella outbreak

Business Insider logo Business Insider 8/7/2020 ktaylor@businessinsider.com (Kate Taylor)
At least 879 people have been sickened in a salmonella outbreak linked to onions. Shutterstock/schankz © Provided by Business Insider At least 879 people have been sickened in a salmonella outbreak linked to onions. Shutterstock/schankz

If you don't know where the onions in your pantry originally came from, it's time to throw them in the trash. 

As of Friday, at least 879 people in the US and Canada have been sickened in a salmonella outbreak linked to onions from produce supplier Thomson International. The supplier has recalled all red, yellow, sweet yellow, and white onions shipped since May 1.

In the US, the US Food and Drug Administration has identified 640 cases of salmonella linked to the onions. Some 85 people had been hospitalized. 

There have been 239 confirmed cases of salmonella in Canada, health officials said on Friday, including 29 hospitalizations. 

Since Thomson International onions are sold under a range of brand names, it may be difficult to identify onions impacted by the recalls. Experts say that, if you aren't sure, you should toss any onions you have. 

"If you do not know where your onions came from follow the advice 'when in doubt, throw them out,'" food safety lawyer Bill Marler told Business Insider on Friday. 

Marler is representing dozens of people in the US and Canada who have been sickened in the outbreak. The FDA also recommends disposing of onions if customers cannot identify if they were shipped from Thomson International. 

The recalled onions were sold under a variety of brand names

Thompson International's onions are sold under these brand names, according to the FDA: 

  • Thomson Premium
  • TLC Thomson International
  • Tender Loving Care
  • El Competitor
  • Hartley's Best
  • Onions 52
  • Majestic
  • Imperial Fresh
  • Kroger
  • Utah Onions
  • Food Lion

Publix has issued an additional recall of red onions packaged by Del Monte Fresh Produce because of concerns that the onions may have been contaminated due to the outbreak. Stores in Alabama, Georgia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia are impacted by the Publix recall. 

Giant Eagle recalled its Onion 52 brand red, yellow, and white onions sold in locations across Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia, Indiana, and Maryland. The grocer additionally recalled prepared food items that were made with the onions. A full list of Giant Eagle's recalled products can be found here.

Finally, Taylor Farms also recalled prepared foods sold at grocers, including Walmart and Kroger, citing similar contamination concerns. A list of recalled Taylor Farms products can be found here.

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