Canada

Salmonella outbreak in Canada linked to American red onions

Health officials have tracked a salmonella outbreak in Canada reported earlier this week to red onions imported from the United States and are asking residents of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario to avoid any products that contain them.

16 people have been hospitalized; no deaths

Health authorities are warning consumers in Central and Western Canada to avoid eating red onions imported from the U.S. and any food products that may contain imported red onions because they have been linked to a salmonella outbreak. (Larry Crowe/The Canadian Press)

Health officials have tracked a salmonella outbreak in Canada reported earlier this week to red onions imported from the United States.

According to a release from the Public Health Agency of Canada, there have been 55 additional illnesses in Canada since the outbreak was first announced for a total of 114 cases of salmonella across five provinces. 

Sixteen people have been hospitalized. No one has died.

People in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario are being asked to not eat any red onions imported to Canada from the U.S., including food products containing red onions, until more is known about the outbreak.

Health officials are urging retailers and restaurants in these provinces to not use, sell or serve red onions imported from the U.S.

One resident of P.E.I. also became sick, but this was after travelling to Alberta.

Those who have become ill consumed the red onions in homes, restaurants and long-term care residences. 

The Canadian Food Inspection Agency issued a recall for red onions imported to Canada by Sysco. Red onions grown in Canada are not involved in this recall. 

People in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Ontario are affected by the outbreak, which has made more than 100 people sick so far and led to 16 hospitalizations but no deaths. One person in P.E.I. who travelled to Alberta also contracted the bug. (Elaine Thompson/Associated Press)

Anyone can get a salmonella infection, but children five years and under, older adults, pregnant women or people with weakened immune systems are at higher risk for contracting serious cases of the illness.

Symptoms include:

  • Fever.
  • Chills.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Abdominal cramps.
  • Headache.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.

The public health agency suggests taking the following precautions to prevent becoming sick from a contaminated red onion.

If you have red onions at home:

  • Look for a label showing where the red onion was grown. It may be printed on the package or on a sticker.
  • If the packaging or sticker shows that it is from the U.S., don't eat it. Throw it away and wash your hands.
  • If it isn't labelled, don't eat it. Throw it away and wash your hands.
  • If you don't know whether the red onion found in a pre-made salad, sandwich, wrap or dip contains red onion from the U.S., don't eat it. Throw it away and wash your hands.
  • Wash and sanitize drawers or shelves in areas (such as fridges and cupboards) where red onions were stored.

If you buy red onions at a store:

  • Look for a label showing where the red onion was grown. It may be printed on the package or on a sticker.
  • If the packaging shows that it is from the U.S., don't buy it.
  • If it is an unpackaged product, or is not labelled, ask the retailer whether the red onion comes from the U.S.
  • If you can't confirm that the red onion in stores is not from the U.S., don't buy it.

Restaurants and retailers are advised to check the label on bags or boxes of red onions or ask their suppliers about the source of their red onions.

You can find more information here.

With files from Brandie Weikle

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