After many people were sickened in California, the local police were able to tie it to bread laced with drugs sold from a local bakery. In their investigation, they discovered that a synthetic drug was responsible for making so many people sick.
Once the bread was eaten, dozens of people quickly became sick. They had symptoms of dizziness, numbness, heart palpitations, and hallucinations. Some also had nausea and out-of-body experiences, all of which caused about 40 people to go to the hospital.
After being tied to the fruitcake, investigators found that it had been made for the Rosca de Reyes celebration, which is a Latin American holiday on Jan. 6. Typically called King’s Day, the holiday honors the day in which the Three Wise Men arrived to see Christ. As part of the celebration, a plastic baby Jesus is baked into the bread.
The bread had been made at the local Cholula’s Bakery and it was sold at 10 stores in Long Beach and Orange County. When investigators went to the bakery, they took a look at everything because they did not know what to look for, or where to look for it. The initial investigation discovered traces of a cockroach infestation and this led the Orange County Health Agency to shut the bakery down.
One theory as to what might have caused the bread to be laced with drugs, which sickened so many, has been proposed by Jeff Nelkin, a Woodland Hills, California-based expert on food safety. He stated that it was possible that some chemical that was in the Jesus figurine might have slowly leeched into the bread, or it could have been a cleaning agent of some kind accidentally put into the bread.
A further investigation into the fruitcake led to the finding of synthetic drugs in it, which caused a criminal investigation to be started. Results that will verify and identify the presence of synthetic drugs are expected to take about two weeks.
Before the bakery can reopen, it will have to verify that it had undergone restaurant cleaning of a professional grade. All food that had been opened and was used in the bread will have to be disposed of and all of the employees will be required to have training in food safety.
Cholula’s Bakery has had a history of problems with various violations of the health code. It had been cited as many as 32 times in the past two years. These have been for incidents such as the improper washing of hands, equipment that was not sanitary, and food holding temperatures that were improper. While some food violations are common in the food industry, the bakery has had ongoing problems in complying with the regulations.
The problem with the bread is not believed to be caused by any of these problems. There is some synthetic drug present and now the police are trying to identify it. Some of the victims were as young as four, and as old as 60. One woman fainted after she became dizzy.
Once the owners of the bakery were told they had sold bread that was laced with drugs that sickened so many in California, and were shut down, they apologized for it on Facebook, in Spanish and in English. The police are encouraging all people who were sickened by the bread to report it to them.
By Mike Valles
Photo by Mike Wright – Flickr License