The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States has advised people to throw out any whole red, white and yellow onions that do not have a sticker or packaging after more than 650 people across 37 states were found to have fallen sick due to a salmonella outbreak.
The outbreak has been traced to onions imported from Chihuahua in Mexico and distributed throughout the United States by ProSource Inc., US health officials said.
"Interviews with sick people show that 75% of people ate or possibly ate raw onions or dishes likely containing raw onions before they became sick," the CDC said in a statement.
At least 129 people have been hospitalised with the infection so far. However, there have been no fatalities, the CDC said. Most of the cases were reported in August and September and largely from Texas and Oklahoma.
The company has also informed health officials that since onions can be stored for months, it may still be in homes and businesses. Consumers have, as a result, been advised to avoid whole fresh red, white, or yellow onions imported from Chihuahua and distributed by ProSource.
What is salmonella infection?
Salmonellosis or salmonella infection is a bacterial disease caused by the Salmonella group of bacteria that typically cause gastronomical illnesses. According to the CDC, in some cases, it can also cause typhoid fever or paratyphoid fever.
Symptoms of salmonella include diarrhea, fever and stomach cramps that usually begin six hours to six days after developing the infection through contaminated food.
Some strains of the bacteria can also cause infection in urine, blood, bones, joints, or the nervous system (spinal fluid and brain), and can cause severe disease.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also launched an investigation into the outbreak, along with the CDC and local authorities. "We will provide updates as we learn more," it said.