The Kane County Health Department is advising that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention along with state and local partners, are investigating a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Oranienburg infections linked to whole, fresh onions.
FDA’s traceback investigation is ongoing but has identified ProSource Inc. (also known as ProSource Produce, LLC) of Hailey, Idaho as a source of potentially contaminated whole, fresh onions imported from the State of Chihuahua, Mexico.
The CDC reports 37 illnesses in Illinois linked to this case.
ProSource Inc. has agreed to voluntarily recall red, yellow, and white onions imported from the State of Chihuahua, Mexico, with import dates from July 1, 2021 through Aug. 27, 2021. Descriptors of these onion types include, but are not limited to, jumbo, colossal, medium, and sweet onions.
As of Oct. 18, 2021, 652 people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Oranienburg have been reported from 37 states (see map). Illnesses started on dates ranging from May 31, 2021, to Sept. 30, 2021 (see timeline).
Sick people range in age from less than 1 year to 97 years, with a median age of 37, and 57% are female. Of 417 people with information available, 129 (31%) have been hospitalized. No deaths have been reported.
The true number of sick people in an outbreak is likely much higher than the number reported, and the outbreak may not be limited to the states with known illnesses. This is because many people recover without medical care and are not tested for Salmonella. In addition, recent illnesses may not yet be reported as it usually takes three to four weeks to determine if a sick person is part of an outbreak.
In interviews, ill people answered questions about the foods they ate and other exposures in the week before they became ill. Of 193 people with information, 145 (75%) reported eating or maybe eating raw onions or dishes likely containing raw onion before they became sick. Several ill people reported eating at the same restaurants, indicating they may be part of illness clusters. These clusters can provide clues about what food item may be making people sick.
If several unrelated ill people ate or shopped at the same location of a restaurant or store within several days of each other, it suggests that the contaminated food item was served or sold there. States identified 20 illness clusters at restaurants where onions were served. Information from these clusters shows that many ill people ate raw onions.
Fresh whole red, white, and yellow onions imported from Chihuahua, Mexico and distributed by ProSource Inc.
- These onions were sold to restaurants and grocery stores throughout the United States.
- ProSource Inc. indicated onions were last imported on August 27, but these imported onions can last up to three months in storage and may still be in homes and businesses.
Investigators are working to determine if other onions and suppliers are linked to this outbreak.
What Businesses Should Do
Do not sell or serve fresh whole red, white, or yellow onions that were imported from Chihuahua, Mexico and distributed by ProSource Inc.
- Check storage coolers and coolers for these onions. If you can’t tell where they are from, throw them away.
- Wash and sanitize any surfaces that may have come in contact with these onions.
What You Should Do
Do not buy or eat any whole fresh red, white, or yellow onions if they were imported from Chihuahua, Mexico and distributed by ProSource Inc.
Throw away any whole red, white, or yellow onions you have at home that do not have a sticker or packaging.
- These onions may have stickers or packaging indicating the brand (ProSource Inc.) and the country (Mexico) where they were grown.
- If you can’t tell where the onions are from, don’t buy or eat them.
- Wash surfaces and containers these onions may have touched using hot soapy water or a dishwasher.
Call your healthcare provider right away if you have any of these severe Salmonella symptoms:
- Diarrhea and a fever higher than 102°F
- Diarrhea for more than 3 days that is not improving
- Bloody diarrhea
- So much vomiting that you cannot keep liquids down
- Signs of dehydration, such as:
- Not peeing much
- Dry mouth and throat
- Feeling dizzy when standing up
Symptoms of Salmonella
- Most people infected with Salmonella experience diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps.
- Symptoms usually start 6 hours to 6 days after swallowing the bacteria.
- Most people recover without treatment after 4 to 7 days.
- Some people – especially children younger than 5 years, adults 65 years and older, and people with weakened immune systems – may experience more severe illnesses that require medical treatment or hospitalization.
- For more information about Salmonella, see the Salmonella Questions and Answers page.