It’s time to say no dice to these onions. On Thursday, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced that A&M Farms is voluntarily recalling its Vidalia onions. That’s because these onions may have been contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. And any onion with this dangerous bacteria named Listeria could have a very bad ring to it.
Here’s an FDA tweet about this sweet, sweet onion:
Vidalia onions are a type of sweet onion. The low amount of sulfur in the Georgia soil in which they are grown helps give them a particularly sweet taste. In fact, Vidalia onions are known to be mild and sweet enough to be peeled and eaten like apples.
How about them apples? So far, there’s no clear evidence that these onions have caused any mass Listeria as no illnesses linked specifically to these products have been reported. The recall is the result of the Lyons, Georgia-based company finding the bacteria on one of its pack lines. After unpacking the situation, A&M Farms decided to issue a very specific recall, affecting those Vidalia onions sold under the Little Bear brand and packed by them from June 20 to June 23, 2022.
These onions have gone to three main retailers: Wegman’s, Publix, and Sam’s Club. Wegman’s issued an alert about this recall since they sold the products at certain locations in three states, New York, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania, on June 23 and 24. These onions may have a price look-up (PLU) number of 4159 or 4166. Publix also sold the recalled onions from June 22 through 24 in Florida and the following counties in Southern Georgia: Barrow, Clarke, DeKalb, Forsyth, Fulton, Gwinnett, Hall, Jackson, Oconee and Walton. The recall encompassed lots of six-pound bags of the Vidalia sweet onions that were shipped to a Sam’s Club’s distribution center in North Carolina as well. However, these onions apparently have already been destroyed and thus unavailable to consumers. If you are thinking of asking Sam’s Club’s specifically to purchase these onions because you like living dangerously, don’t.
Obviously if someone says, “would you like a little Listeria with your soup, soufflé, or casserole,” your answer should be “absolutely not” or “do we need to talk? Have I done something to bother you?” As I’ve described for Forbes previously, this bacteria can not only hit you right in the gut to cause a very poopy experience, it can also spread to your bloodstream and central nervous system, causing what’s called invasive listeriosis. Invasive listeriosis doesn’t happen with all Listeria infectious but is more likely to happen in young children, older adults, and anyone else with a weaker immune system. Invasive listeriosis brings a 20% to 30% risk of death, which isn’t good if you have plans for the coming weekend. Moreover, if you are pregnant, a Listeria infection can result in a range of complications such as miscarriages, stillbirths, or life-threatening infections in the newborn.
Therefore, if you do have these recalled onions, don’t just say, “YOLO” and consume them. Instead, properly discard the onions and bring the receipt to where you bought them for a refund. Note that “properly discard” does not mean feed them to your roommate. You may not be roommates for long if you are treating your roommate like a garbage can. Make sure the onions are wrapped so that no one can touch them. Thoroughly clean anything that may have touched the onions, including storage containers, utensils, counter tops, your pillow case, and your Justin Bieber plate collection.
Since the recalled onions have been sold in Florida, you may be wondering whether these products are responsible for the ongoing Listeria outbreak that I covered for Forbes on July 1. After all, this Listeria outbreak has been linked to Florida. However, neither the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announcement about the outbreak nor the FDA announcement about the onion recall mentioned any connection between the two.
In the meantime, check your onions. And, no, that’s not a euphemism for something else. Make sure that you know where your onions came from and aren’t the Little Bear ones affected by the recall. Vidalia onions may be sweet. But a Listeria infection would certainly not be a sweet thing to have to bear.