Hundreds sickened in salmonella outbreak linked to onions, officials say

Officials believe contaminated onions are the source of a salmonella outbreak that has sickened hundreds of people in recent weeks in the U.S. and Canada.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a food safety alert Friday warning consumers, restaurants and retailers not to eat, serve or sell onions from California-based Thomson International Inc.

“If you can’t tell where your onions are from, don’t eat them. Throw them away,” officials said in the alert. “If you made any foods with onions and you don’t know where they are from, do not eat them. Throw them away, even if no one got sick.”

Red onions from Thomson International have been linked to an outbreak that has sickened 396 people in 34 states and more than 100 people in Canada, according to the Food and Drug Administration. Still, officials cautioned people against eating any onion varieties grown by Thomson due to potential cross-contamination.

Salmonella can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections, particularly in young children, older adults and people with weakened immune systems, according to the CDC.

Most people who are infected with the bacteria develop diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps between six hours and six days after they’ve been infected, according to officials. In some cases, the infection can cause diarrhea so severe that it requires hospitalization. In these instances, the infection can spread from the intestines into the bloodstream and beyond, potentially causing death if it goes untreated, according to the CDC.