The mysterious outbreak of Salmonella Newport solved: red onions from California are the culprit

For several weeks an outbreak of Salmonella Newport is casing illnesses in numerous states in the US and Canada. The FDA and CDC had difficulty identifying the source. However, the research showed that the outbreaks in the US and Canada have a genetic fingerprint closely related to each other. 


Earlier Friday, the Public Health Agency of Canada announced a recall by Sysco ( of its red onions, imported from the US because traceback work showed them to be related to the outbreak in Canada. The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) announced that Imperial Fresh brand jumbo red onions in 10- and 25-pound bags, with product codes of 8399925 and 8313967, respectively, were sold in British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and North Western Ontario were the source of the outbreak. Sysco has recalled the onions through Canadian Sysco locations in Victoria, Vancouver, Kelowna, Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, and Regina.


Based on the Canadian information, and epidemiologic data on the US outbreak from CDC (, and the FDA’s ( traceback investigation identified Thomson International (Bakersfield, CA), Inc. red onions as the potential source of the infection. In the US, the outbreak caused 398 illnesses, 50 hospitalizations, and no death. States with Cases: AK (6), AZ (14), CA (49), CO (10), FL (3), ID (5), IL (10), IN (2), IA (15), KS (1), KY (1), ME (4), MD (1), MI (23), MN (10), MO (6), MT (33), NE (5), NV (5), NY (4), NC (3), ND (5), OH (7), OR (71), PA (2), SC (1), SD (11), TN (5), TX (1), UT (61), VA (4), WA (2), WI (5), WY (11). 


The Public Health Agency of Canada had found another 114 cases with those illnesses reported becoming ill after eating red onions at home, in menu items ordered at restaurants, and in residential care settings. That includes 43 cases in BC, 55 in Alberta, 13 in Manitoba, two in Ontario, and one in PEI (an individual who had traveled to Alberta). No deaths have been reported in Canada. Thomson International will recall all varieties of its onions that could have contacted potentially contaminated red onions, due to the risk of cross-contamination. 


Thomson International, Inc., of Bakersfield, California was identified, as the source of red onions in this outbreak. The investigation is ongoing to determine if other onions are linked to the outbreak.Onions included in this recall are packaged for foodservice use and therefore, have been used in multi-ingredient foods. As a result it is difficult for consumers to know whether the onions in products such as deli salads to restaurants’ menu items are part of the recall.

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