Salmonella and listeria infections highlight food safety and compliance concerns

Two separate outbreaks linked with contaminated food items that have been distributed to Virginia have highlighted the ongoing concerns over safety and compliance in the food industry.


Consumers, restaurants, and retailers should not eat, sell, or serve red, white, yellow, or sweet onions from the company, or any products containing onions from Thompson International.

Salmonella Outbreak from Contaminated Onions

After a salmonella outbreak that has so far affected 43 states, including Virginia, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a Food Safety Alert on August 7, 2020, relating to onions that were likely produced by a California supplier, Thomson International.

While the number of cases is likely to rise over the next few weeks, there have already been 640 cases and 85 hospitalizations across the country, most of which were in the western states of Utah, Oregon, California and Montana.

The CDC’s investigation is ongoing, but epidemiological and traceback information showed that red onions from Thomson International of Bakersfield, California are a likely source of the outbreak. Consumers, restaurants, and retailers should not eat, sell, or serve red, white, yellow, or sweet onions from the company, or any products containing these onions. On August 8, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stated that Publix Super Markets had recalled red onions sold in six states, including Virginia.

Symptoms of a Salmonella infection can include fever, diarrhea and abdominal cramps. Most people recover without treatment within 4-7 days, but children younger than 5 and adults aged 65 or older, as well as those in poor health or with weakened immune systems, are more likely to experience severe illness.

Listeria Outbreak from Contaminated Sausage Products

Another public health alert was issued by the Department of Agriculture (USDA) on August 7 relating to sausage products distributed by Bluegrass Provisions Co., which may be contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. This can cause listeriosis, a serious infection that mainly affects older adults and persons with weakened immune systems, as well as pregnant women and their newborns.

The ready-to-eat smoked sausage products were shipped to distributors and retail locations in Virginia, including Lidl stores, as well as in North Carolina, Kentucky and Ohio. Although the USDA’s Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) did not request a recall because the items are no longer on the market and past their use or freeze by dates, FSIS issued the alert in case they are still in consumers’ freezers.

Symptoms of listeriosis include fever, muscle aches, headache, stiff neck, confusion, loss of balance and convulsions. The infection is sometimes preceded by diarrhea or other gastrointestinal symptoms.

Anyone who has recently eaten any of the recalled onions or sausage products, and suffered any Listeria or Salmonella symptoms, should contact their doctor immediately.

If you or a loved one has suffered from food contamination, you may have a valid claim. The attorneys at Allen & Allen have experience with food poisoning cases and can help you receive full and fair compensation for your injuries. For a free consultation, contact Allen & Allen.