Synthetic Drug Found in Rosca de Reyes Bread That Sickened Dozens

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Those who became sick after eating the Three Kings bread reported symptoms including dizziness, palpitations and numbness. (Credit: Orange County Health Care Agency)

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The cause of an illness that sickened dozens of people who ate Rosca de Reyes bread from a Santa Ana bakery was determined to be a criminal act Friday after lab tests revealed the presence of a synthetic drug.

More than 30 people became ill after eating the product, also known as Three Kings Day or Epiphany bread, from Cholula’s Bakery, according to a news release from the Orange County Health Care Agency.

The Los Angeles Times later reported more than 40 people had become sick.

The bread was distributed by the bakery on Jan. 5 and 6 to a number of retail outlets in Orange County and Long Beach, health officials said.

Those who became sick experienced symptoms including dizziness, palpitations and numbness.

"Based on preliminary laboratory results from product samples that indicated the presence of a synthetic drug in the bread, the investigation will be handed back to the Santa Ana Police Department for criminal investigation," according to the agency.

Final laboratory results were expected in one to two weeks.

Investigators also found traces of a cockroach infestation at the Santa Ana bakery. The business was closed Tuesday and not expected to reopen until all open food and ingredients used to make the bread were disposed of, and staff completed professional restaurant-grade cleaning and received food training, the Times reported.

Anyone who believed they consumed the tainted bread were encouraged to contact the Santa Ana Police Crimes Against Persons Unit at 714-245-8390.

Outlets that distributed the bread included the following, according to the Times.

  • Cholula’s Bakery, 1002 E. 17th Street, Suite F, Santa Ana, 714-972-3115
  • El Nopal Mercado, 31451 Camino Capistrano, San Juan Capistrano, 949-443-9145
  • La Bodega Ranch, 918 N. Glassell St. Orange, 714-639-9199
  • La Bodega Ranch, 1700 North Placentia Ave., Fullerton, 714-524-1432
  • Santa Ana Marquet, 1216 W. 1st St. Santa Ana, 714-543-3655
  • Tony’s Liquor, 32141 Alipaz St., San Juan Capistrano, 949-218-8090
  • Gonzalez Marquet, 235 W. La Jolla St. Placentia, 714-632-8655
  • Taqueria Mocorito Restaurant, 1076 N. State College Blvd., Anaheim, 714-491-2335
  • Taco Boy, 725 N. Anaheim Blvd., Anaheim, 714-491-7156
  • Brianna’s Ice Cream, 2107 E. Ball Road, Anaheim, 714-635-6264
  • La Bodega Ranch Market, 4945 Long Beach Blvd. Long Beach, 562-423-8400

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