Food Safety Magazine

News | July 31, 2020

Red Onions from U.S. Likely the Source of Salmonella Outbreak, Says Canada

By Staff

Red Onions from U.S. Likely the Source of Salmonella Outbreak, Says Canada

This week, a Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) foodborne outbreak investigation led to the recall of onion products imported from the U.S. 

CFIA’s investigation triggered the recall of red onions from various Sysco locations in western Canada due to possible Salmonella contamination.

As of July 30th, CFIA has confirmed 114 Salmonella Newport illnesses in Canada. Health officials there have determined that red onions from the U.S. are the likely source of the outbreak. Many of the ill individuals under investigation reported having eaten red onions before getting sick. Individuals who became ill reported eating red onions at home, in menu items ordered at restaurants, and in residential care settings.

The agency is advising individuals in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario to not eat any red onions imported to Canada from the U.S., including any food products that contain raw red onions imported from U.S. Retailers and restaurants in these locations are also advised not to use, sell, or serve red onions imported from the U.S. Red onions grown in Canada are not affected by this advice.

CFIA says that the Salmonella Newport outbreak in the U.S. has a “similar genetic fingerprint” to the one in Canada. Health officials in both countries continue to collaborate to exchange information and identify commonalities in the outbreak.

At this time, on the U.S. side, no product recall of any sort has been announced by any company or agency. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s last outbreak update on July 24th shows a total of 212 Salmonella Newport illnesses in 23 states. According to that update, no specific food item, grocery store, or restaurant chain has been identified as the source of infections.

CFIA says their investigation may lead to the recall of additional products. The agency will continue its investigation into other possible importers as well.

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