Go Ad-Free
logoThe People's Perspective on Medicine

The Onion Recall: What an Outrage!

Have you thrown out ALL your onions? The FDA and CDC say that if you don't know where your onions came from, out they go. I'm mad as hell!

I love onions! Today, we dumped a LOT of onions into the garbage because the CDC and the FDA told us that was our only recourse. So far, over 650 people have become ill in 37 states because onions imported from Chihuahua, Mexico, were contaminated with salmonella. The great onion recall sucks for a couple of reasons. First, we thought the FOOD and Drug Administration was supposed to protect us from this sort of thing. And second, why won’t anyone tell us what stores and supermarkets are especially involved in the onion recall?

The FDA Statement About the Onion Recall:

The FDA has offered this update on its onion recall (Oct. 20, 2021):

“To date, this outbreak has resulted in 652 illnesses in consumers across the U.S. Illness subclusters investigated in this outbreak thus far are associated with restaurants and food service locations. That’s why as our investigation continues, we’re advising restaurants, retailers and consumers to not eat, sell, or serve red, yellow, and white onions supplied by ProSource Inc. that were imported from the State of Chihuahua, Mexico from July 1 through August 27, or products containing these onions. ProSource Inc. has agreed to voluntarily recall such onions.”

But wait…it get’s even more ridiculous:

“Descriptors of these onion types include, but are not limited to, jumbo, colossal, medium, and sweet onions.”

In other words, virtually ALL onions are suspect. The FDA goes on to add this coup de grace:

“Consumers should ask if the onions being served or sold were supplied by ProSource Inc. and imported from the State of Chihuahua, Mexico. If it still cannot be determined if the onions were supplied by ProSource Inc. and imported from the State of Chihuahua, Mexico, do not sell, serve, or eat them, and throw them out.”

How Would You Know Where Your Onions Came From?

We keep our onions stored in a basket in our pantry. We had no way of knowing if they came from Chihuahua, Mexico. That’s why we threw them out. It was sad.

The CDC notes on Oct. 21, 2021 that:

  • “The onions were distributed to wholesalers, broadline foodservice customers, and retail stores in 50 lb., 25 lb., 10 lb., 5 lb., 3 lb., and 2 lb. mesh sacks; and 50 lb., 40 lb., 25 lb., 10 lb., and 5 lb. cartons,
  • The onions were sold under the following brands: Big Bull, Peak Fresh Produce, Sierra Madre, Markon First Crop, Markon Essentials, Rio Blue, ProSource, Rio Valley, and Sysco Imperial.”

If you are like us, you probably selected a few onions from the onion bin. They probably did not have a brand name on them. And they may not have had a label stating which state in Mexico grew them.

That’s why we had to follow’s the CDC’s directive to:

“Throw away any whole red, white, or yellow onions you have at home that do not have a sticker or packaging.”

What I would like to know is what stores or chains stocked the contaminated onions? Why can’t the FDA and the CDC notify us that the onion recall applies to onions purchased at XYZ stores? Will we get reimbursed by the store for the tainted onions? Or are we out of luck?

And what about food companies that might have used those nasty onions? Will our frozen veggies, frozen pizza, or frozen whatever make us sick? Only time will tell.

What Do You Think About the Onion Recall?

We would like to get your perspective on the great onion recall of 2021. Share your thoughts in the comment section below. Have you thrown out your onions? Have you developed symptoms of salmonella poisoning?

Here’s what the FDA describes in unpleasant detail:

“Most people with salmonellosis develop diarrhea, fever, and abdominal cramps. More severe cases of salmonellosis may include a high fever, aches, headaches, lethargy, a rash, blood in the urine or stool, and in some cases may become fatal.”

Why We Care About Food Recalls:

A number of readers have complained that we are making a mountain out of a molehill with this onion recall announcement. If this were an isolated event, we could not be so concerned. But this is not the first time onions have been recalled for salmonella contamination. A year ago, there was another widespread recall of onions by major food retailers.

It’s not just onions. Last year frozen shrimp were also recalled along with peaches, citrus fruit and canned chicken soup. Go back a little further and you will discover huge recalls involving beef, turkey, spinach and peanuts. A lot of people got very sick!

There have been so many recalls of contaminated or adulterated food that we can no longer keep track. And don’t get us started on pharmaceutical impurities. Here is this week’s rant about carcinogens in medications because of an irbesartan recall.

The Food and Drug Administration is supposed to protect Americans from contaminated food products as well as medications. But there are so many instances where it has fallen short that we take these problems for granted. That is why we are alarmed about this most recent onion recall.

Pass This Message on Please:

Not everyone has the time to stay up on the news. Please share this onion story with family and friends. It’s easy. Just scroll to the top of the page and use the email icon to send this story along. Thank you for supporting our work.

Rate this article
4.3- 291 ratings
About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.”.
Tired of the ads on our website?

Now you can browse our website completely ad-free for just $5 / month. Stay up to date on breaking health news and support our work without the distraction of advertisements.

Browse our website ad-free
Join over 150,000 Subscribers at The People's Pharmacy

We're empowering you to make wise decisions about your own health, by providing you with essential health information about both medical and alternative treatment options.