Food Safety

An Onion Recall Is Impacting All 50 States

Red, yellow, white, and sweet onions are all affected.

August  4, 2020
Photo by Food52

In case this year couldn't throw us any more curveballs, there's a new country-wide food recall impacting one of our favorite kitchen staples: onions.

According to an August 1 announcement from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, "Thomson International Inc. of Bakersfield, California is recalling Red, Yellow, White, and Sweet Yellow Onions" because they may potentially be contaminated with salmonella.

Salmonella is an infection-causing bacteria that can lead to a host of symptoms including diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps (yep, you'll want to avoid it all costs). The symptoms usually begin anywhere from six hours to six days after exposure, and can last up to a week. While most people recover without treatment, it can, in some cases, be more severe—especially among young children, the elderly, and people with compromised immune systems.

But before you start tossing your stash of onions, here's what you need to know about the recall:

  • The onions were distributed to wholesalers, restaurants, and retail stores across all 50 states, as well as the District of Columbia and Canada.
  • The onions may have been sold under a variety of brand names, like Thomson Premium, Majestic, Imperial Fresh, Kroger, Utah Onions, Food Lion, and more (head to the FDA's site for a full list, as well as photos of their packaging).
  • If you've purchased onions that fall under this recall, you're advised to dispose of them. If you can’t tell where your onions are from, the CDC recommends not to eat those either (to be on the safe side). Also, if you happen to have any leftover dishes made with these onions, you'll want to toss them, too, as they might be contaminated.
  • The CDC recommends washing and sanitizing "any surfaces that may have come in contact with these onions or their packaging, such as countertops, refrigerator drawers, knives, and cutting boards."
  • Since the recall also impacts restaurants and wholesalers, make sure to check that the onions being served, cooked with, or sold aren't from Thomson International Inc.

If you start noticing symptoms of salmonella, the CDC recommends noting what you ate, along with when you first started getting sick, and reaching out to your doctor first. You might also want to consider reaching out to your local health department to help track the outbreak. For more information, check out these resources from the CDC and FDA.


See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Joan Maclachlan
    Joan Maclachlan
  • Mary
    Mary
  • Marlene
    Marlene
  • Veggiegirl
    Veggiegirl
  • Kendall
    Kendall
Erin Alexander is the Associate Editor at Food52, covering pop culture, travel, foods of the internet, and all things #sponsored. Formerly at Men’s Journal, Men’s Fitness, Us Weekly, and Hearst, she currently lives in New York City.

22 Comments

Joan M. August 9, 2020
Is it risky to assume that organic onions are safe?
 
Jenna L. August 10, 2020
Just called Thompson International and
NO ORGANIC ONIONS ARE INVOLVED IN THE RECALL.
 
Mary August 9, 2020
Someone was asking about alternatives to onions...I'd add leeks to the shallots and scallions another reader suggested.
 
Marlene August 9, 2020
I'm under the impression that salmonella is heat sensitive. I guess we will have to cook all our onions. Maybe a blanche will be sufficient to kill the bacteria. Food scientists out there what's your opinion?
 
Jim August 9, 2020
Don’t eat them at all. Cooking doesn’t kill salmonella.
 
Veggiegirl August 8, 2020
So, don’t throw away your onions until you get all the facts. The facts(according to this article) are the affected onions were shipped to all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Canada. You can get more information at the mentioned government sites.
There is no real or helpful information here just direction to sites that may have useful information.
 
Kendall August 7, 2020
I am very grateful that my farmers market at Grand Army Plaza Brooklyn & Union Square NYC are still open this allows me to purchase my onions directly from the farmer
 
Julie Y. August 7, 2020
So......onions purchased as loose items? Do they need to be avoided?
 
Linda August 7, 2020
Ok, so we don’t have onions now! But almost every meal recipe calls for them. Any thoughts on substitutions for great flavour?
 
Kristine S. August 7, 2020
The powders they sell in the spice aisle??? I don’t see green onions there.
I love onions 😭! (Tears are not from onions).
 
Linda August 8, 2020
I’ve recently been told that fennel is a good substitute
 
gerard G. August 9, 2020
Shallots, Scallions.
 
Jim August 9, 2020
Onion powder or dried onions.
 
Kristine S. August 9, 2020
Shallots are okay?
 
Nette W. August 6, 2020
You know we all will be eating out of cans soon..my the government is trying to kill us all... No Disrespect.
 
Jim August 9, 2020
Ridiculous.
 
SS August 5, 2020
I bought a 25 LB bag of red onions in middle of March. Since then till now have used them and have had no signs of any sickness. The label on the netted bag says triple Crown and Oregon, will have to check if its on the List
 
Lillian L. August 5, 2020
You can’t even trust labels! Here in Canada my onions had a label marked Gwillimdale Farms, Bradford Ontario, with Their logo and address. I bought thinking they were local. After the alert I looked again and flipped the label over....product of USA! This also happens at farmers markets, the vegetables are bought from a good terminal not grown locally but sold at inflated prices. At the very least it is misleading at worst it is dangerous . People may not throw out their onions thinking they have bought Canadian.
 
SS August 7, 2020
Yup, I noticed this also on a bag of other onions too andthen it said Produce of the USA
Realy its so confusing and annoying too.Suddenly even dieet soft drinks are not in stores! whats happening ?
 
Deane B. August 4, 2020
What about onions with sticker that says product of Mexico??!
 
Martha F. August 4, 2020
Thank goodness for farmers' markets!!!
 
SS August 7, 2020
Farmers market well? if they are loose onions then its from a bag I have my doubts. Ibought a bag of Organic onions yesterday from Thriftys, they had them for $5.Plus! I really needed the onions so went for it usede and saw onthe bag its Product of the USA
Well if I am still alive will post news net week!!