A variety of genetic strains of Salmonella Newport have been detected, as well as multiple other Salmonella serotypes, from multiple Thomson International Inc. locations and surrounding areas, including water, soil, and scat samples.

The FDA, along with CDC and Canadian, state, and local partners, has been investigating a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Newport infections. FDA’s traceback portion of the investigation is complete and has identified Thomson International, Inc. of Bakersfield, CA, as the likely source of potentially contaminated red onions.

The multistate outbreak of Salmonella Newport infections linked to red onions from Thomson International, Inc. that were sold in several regions of the United States and Canada, investigated by the FDA, along with CDC and Canadian, state, and local partners, is over. The outbreak resulted in recalls for multiple onion varieties and products containing onions. FDA’s traceback investigation identified a packing facility and multiple farms that supplied red onions during the time period of interest. Joint FDA, California Department of Public Health (CDPH), and California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) field-level investigations were initiated at multiple Thomson International Inc. locations and surrounding areas within days of identifying the suspect vehicle and the firm. However, most product had already been harvested and distributed by that time. Thus far, FDA has completed over 2000 product and environmental analyses from multiple Thomson International Inc. locations and surrounding areas, including water, soil, and scat samples. Although a variety of genetic strains of Salmonella Newport have been detected, as well as multiple other Salmonella serotypes, a genetic match to the outbreak strain has yet to be identified in any of the samples collected. Additional sample analysis is underway.  Although the outbreak is being declared over, the FDA will continue its root cause investigation and will communicate any findings that could assist future prevention efforts.

In Canada there were 515 confirmed cases of Salmonella Newport illness linked to this outbreak in the following provinces: British Columbia (121), Alberta (293), Saskatchewan (35), Manitoba (26), Ontario (14), Quebec (25) and Prince Edward Island (1). Individuals became sick between mid-June and late-August 2020. Seventy-nine individuals were hospitalized. Three people died, but Salmonella did not contribute to the cause of these deaths. Individuals who became ill were between 1 and 100 years of age. The majority of cases (54%) were female.

In the United States a total of 1,127 people infected with the outbreak strain of Salmonella Newport were reported from 48 states. Illnesses started on dates ranging from June 19, 2020, to September 11, 2020 . Ill people ranged in age from less than 1 to 102 years, with a median age of 41. Fifty-eight percent of ill people were female. Of 705 ill people with information available, 167 people were hospitalized. No deaths were reported.

Epidemiologic and traceback evidence showed that red onions from Thomson International Inc. were the likely source of this outbreak. Other onion types (such as white, yellow, or sweet yellow) were also likely to be contaminated because the onions were grown and harvested together.

FDA and states reviewed records where ill people purchased or ate onions and foods containing onions. This traceback investigation identified Thomson International Inc. as the likely source of red onions.

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) and The Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) also investigated an outbreak of Salmonella Newport infections in Canada that was related genetically by WGS to the U.S. outbreak. Their investigation identified red onions from Thomson International Inc. as the likely source of their outbreak.

On August 1, 2020, Thomson International Inc. recalled all red, yellow, white, and sweet yellow onions because they may be contaminated with Salmonella. Other companies also recalled onions or foods made with recalled onions. See the full list of recalled products. Consumers, restaurants, and retailers should not eat, serve, or sell recalled onions and products.

As of October 8, 2020, this outbreak appears to be over. FDA is continuing their investigation to find the root cause of this outbreak.

Marler Clark, The Food Safety Law Firm, is the nation’s leading law firm representing victims of Salmonella outbreaks. The Salmonella lawyers of Marler Clark have represented thousands of victims of Salmonella and other foodborne illness outbreaks and have recovered over $750 million for clients.  Marler Clark is the only law firm in the nation with a practice focused exclusively on foodborne illness litigation.  Our Salmonella lawyers have litigated Salmonella cases stemming from outbreaks traced to a variety of foods, such as cantaloupe, tomatoes, ground turkey, salami, sprouts, cereal, peanut butter, and food served in restaurants.  The law firm has brought Salmonella lawsuits against such companies as Cargill, ConAgra, Peanut Corporation of America, Sheetz, Taco Bell, Subway and Wal-Mart.

If you or a family member became ill with a Salmonella infection, including Reactive Arthritis or Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), after consuming food and you’re interested in pursuing a legal claim, contact the Marler Clark Salmonella attorneys for a free case evaluation.

Additional Resources: