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Rhode Island Hunts Bakeries for Bad Zeppole

The Rhode Island Department of Health’s state laboratories were working over the weekend to pinpoint the exact source of the Salmonella infections that have apparently made 25 people sick and put 10 (corrected from 13 originally reported) in the hospital.

Rhode Island Health said 25 of the ill people reported consuming zeppoles pastries from DeFusco’s Bakery. Laboratory confirmed tests for 13 of the 25 have confirmed Salmonella as the cause of the illnesses.

Officials said the most likely cause of illness is consumption of zeppole pastries that came in contact with raw eggs. Pastry shells from DeFusco had been stored in used egg crates, which could have exposed them to infected raw eggs. 

The investigation continues to identify all bakeries that sold zeppoles made by DeFusco’s and to determine the source of the eggs.

So far the trace back investigation has found that American Bakery Supplies, a distributor in West Warwick, purchased zeppoles from DeFusco’s. 

That company then distributed the pastries to Roch’s Market in West Warwick; Meal Works in Coventry; and Touch of Class Catering in West Warwick. 

Meal Works (a catering company) served these zeppoles at events at West Warwick Manor Senior Center, St. John and Paul Church in Coventry, Sparrow Point (senior facility) in West Warwick, and Crescent Park Manor in Riverside.

Zeppoles are traditional treat eaten on and around March 19, St. Joseph’s Day.

Zeppoles from DeFusco’s Johnston store were also sold at all DeFusco’s locations; Colvitto’s Bistro (corrected spelling from original report)  in Narraganset; Sal’s Bakery in Providence; and Focaccia World in Johnston. All five Crugnale Bakery locations in Providence, East Providence, North Providence, Cranston, and Cumberland also sold DeFusco’s zeppoles from March 16 through March 20.

Rhode Island health officials also discovered unsafe food storage practices at Buono’s Bakery in Providence. Their zeppole, cream puff, and ├ęclair shells were also stored in used egg crates, which could lead to contamination from raw eggs. 

The agency said consumers should immediately discard all baked goods from any DeFusco’s; zeppoles from any of the above locations; and zeppoles, cream puffs, and ├ęclairs from Buono’s Bakery in Providence.

It also offered this advice:

— Anyone who has eaten any of the above-mentioned products and has gotten sick (especially with nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea) should contact a healthcare provider immediately for evaluation and treatment. 

— Because foods of animal origin, including eggs, may be contaminated with Salmonella, people should not eat raw or undercooked eggs, poultry, or meat or raw or unpasteurized milk or other dairy products. In addition, raw eggs and uncooked meats should be kept separate from produce, cooked foods, and ready-to-eat foods in order to avoid cross-contamination.

— Hands, cutting boards, counters, knives, and other utensils should be washed thoroughly after touching uncooked foods. 

– Boxes that contained eggs or raw meat product should never be used for any other purpose. 

— People should wash their hands before handling food, and between handling different food items. 

© Food Safety News