I don’t mean to cause panic, but if you are eating raw onion right now at this very moment, please STOP what you’re doing (eating the onion) and DO something else (continue reading this article).
That is because there is a big onion recall due to a multistate outbreak of Salmonella Oranienburg linked to whole, fresh onions, the Food and Drug Administration announced on Wednesday. Specifically, red, yellow, and white onions imported from Chihuahua, Mexico between July 1 and August 27 and distributed by ProSource Inc. Yes, of all things, onions, the flavorful foundation of most delicious cuisines. I’ll give you a moment to collect yourself in your devastation.
Since onions can last a few months in storage, some of the onions in question may still be in use, whether served whole or present in other dishes that include raw onion. If your onions are from ProSource and imported from Mexico, or even if you’re not sure where your onions are from or whether they’ve been potentially contaminated, you should throw them out and sanitize all surfaces they may have touched. While high temperatures reached in cooking should kill Salmonella bacteria, obviously there is still a risk if you haven’t cooked the onion enough, and there is also the risk of contamination from whatever the raw produce might have touched while you were futzing about in your kitchen, so to be safe, please just throw it away.
So far, the outbreak has sickened 652 people and hospitalized 129 across 37 states, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Last year, another Salmonella outbreak in onions ended up causing more than 1,600 reported illnesses in the U.S. and Canada.
Regardless of all this seemingly alarming information I have provided you with, please remain calm. Despite these high-profile cases, the risk of foodborne illness in the U.S. is still “extremely small,” a food safety expert told me last year for a piece that I wrote about that onion recall for a different website.
Just steer clear of raw onions of unknown origin for the time being. Maybe pull an Alison Roman and branch out into shallots, or whichever allium suits your fancy. But just in case, here are some symptoms of Salmonella to watch out for: diarrhea, fever, abdominal cramps, vomiting, and signs of dehydration. Good luck out there.