Throw Away Unlabeled Red, White, and Yellow Onions Due to a Risk of Salmonella, the CDC Says

More than 650 people in 37 states have been sickened

yellow, white and red onion Photo: iStock

The Centers for Disease Control says consumers should throw away raw red, white, and yellow onions that don’t have a label on them while it investigates a multistate salmonella outbreak linked to them. And don’t buy unlabeled onions, either. 

The onions have sickened 652 people in 37 states, the CDC says. Of those, 129 have been hospitalized. No deaths have been confirmed. 

The agency traced the outbreak to imported onions from Chihuahua, Mexico, and distributed by ProSource. Some onions may have stickers or packaging indicating the brand and the country where they were grown. But the CDC says if you can’t tell where the onions are from, don’t buy or eat them.

More on Food Safety

ProSource, along with Keeler Family Farms, has recalled all its red, yellow, and white onions with import dates from July 1, 2021, through Aug. 27, 2021. To date, no Keeler Family Farms onions have tested positive for salmonella, but the company is issuing the recall as a precaution.

In addition, two home meal-kit companies—EveryPlate and HelloFresh—said consumers should throw away onions in kits they received between July 7, 2021 and September 8, 2021 because of possible contamination. See this list from the FDA of other companies that have issued recalls related to these onions.

“Onions that are clearly labeled or that you buy at a local farmers market should be okay,” says James E. Rogers, PhD, director of food safety research and testing at Consumer Reports. “But don’t consume any onion unless you are absolutely certain of its source.” 

ProSource didn’t respond to questions in time for publication.

How to Stay Safe From Salmonella

The biggest risk of contracting salmonella from these onions is consuming them raw. But cooking with them could be risky, too, Rogers says. “There’s always the concern of cross contamination from your hands, cooking surfaces, or any surfaces the onions touched,” he says.

If you’re worried that you may have cooked with a contaminated onion, wash any surfaces it may have touched with hot soapy water, Rogers says.

Symptoms of Salmonella

Salmonella causes diarrhea, fever, and stomach cramps anywhere from 6 hours to six days after exposure, according to the CDC. The illness usually lasts four to seven days and resolves without treatment. But some people may become so ill that they require hospitalization. 

Call a doctor if you have a fever higher than 102° F, diarrhea that doesn’t improve in three days, or bloody stools. Dehydration is also possible and should be assessed by a doctor. Signs of dehydration include dry mouth and throat, dizziness when standing, and making very little urine.

The Details

Products recalled: Fresh, whole, red, white, and yellow onions imported from Chihuahua, Mexico, and distributed by ProSource of Hailey, Idaho, and Keeler Family Farms of Deming, N.M. 

The problem: The onions may be contaminated with salmonella.

The fix: The CDC says don’t buy them and throw away any unlabeled onions you already have because it might not be possible to know their source. 

How to contact the manufacturer: Call ProSource at 208-928-6929. Call Keeler Family Farms at 575-652-5405. Contact EveryPlate at 973-210-4915 or by live chat on its website. Contact HelloFresh at 646-846-3663 or by live chat on its website.

Head shot of CRO author Lisa Gill

Lisa L. Gill

As a dorky kid, I spent many a Saturday at the Bloomington, Ind., public library, scouring Consumer Reports back issues for great deals. Now, as a (much) bigger kid, that's still my job! Identifying products and services, especially in healthcare, that are safe, effective, and affordable—and highlighting those that aren't—is my top concern. Got a tip? Follow me on Twitter ( @Lisa_L_Gill)