100 more Canadians have become sick from eating US onions

Aug 15 2020, 1:17 pm

The Public Health Agency of Canada is reporting 100 new illnesses across the country related to salmonella contaminated onions grown in California.

There have been no deaths related to the products, but the new cases bring the total to 339  illnesses linked to the onions in Canada, as of Friday. Currently, 48 individuals have been hospitalized.

Those who became sick are between the age of three and 100, with the majority of cases (54%) being found in females.

According to the agency, the confirmed cases of Salmonella Newport illness have been linked to this outbreak in the following provinces: British Columbia (78), Alberta (208), Saskatchewan (19), Manitoba (19), Ontario (8), Quebec (6), and Prince Edward Island (1).

“Do not eat, use, sell or serve any red, white, yellow, and sweet yellow onions from Thomson International Inc. of Bakersfield, California, USA, or any products made with these onions,” the health agency wrote in an update. “This advice applies to all individuals across Canada, as well as retailers, distributors, manufacturers and food service establishments such as hotels, restaurants, cafeterias, hospitals, and nursing homes.”

Individuals who became ill reported eating red onions at home, items ordered at restaurants, and in residential care settings between mid-June and late July 2020.

There have also been a series of recalls issued by Health Canada for the products.

Symptoms of a Salmonella infection typically start six to 72 hours after exposure to a contaminated product and can include fever, chills, diarrhea, cramps, vomiting, and nausea.

Most people who become ill from an infection will fully recover in a few days, according to health officials, although individuals can be infectious for up to several weeks.

Infants, children, seniors, and people with weakened immune systems are most at risk for serious illnesses related to Salmonella infections.

It is difficult to know if a product is contaminated with Salmonella because you can’t see, smell or taste it.

To lessen the risk of Salmonella, the following food safety tips are offered by public health officials:

  • Wash your hands with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds before and after handling fresh produce.
  • Cut away any bruised or damaged areas on fresh produce, since harmful bacteria can thrive in these areas.
  • Wash fresh produce thoroughly under fresh, cool, running water, even if you plan to peel them.
  • Don’t soak fresh produce in a sink full of water.
  • Use a clean produce brush to scrub items that have firm surfaces like cucumbers, oranges, melons, potatoes, carrots.
  • Use one cutting board for produce and a separate one for raw meat, poultry, fish and seafood.
  • Place peeled or cut fruits and vegetables on a separate clean plate.
  • Use paper towels to wipe kitchen surfaces, or change dishcloths daily.
  • Sanitize countertops, cutting boards and utensils before and after preparing food.
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