33 now sick from salmonella in Rhode Island pastry

An additional eight cases of possible salmonella linked to DeFusco’s Bakery were reported on Monday, bringing the total to 33, up from 25 (the figure of 23 was corrected by the Rhode Island Depatrment of Health on Sunday).

Annemarie Beardsworth, Health Department spokeswoman, said that these cases were people who went to their doctors or the emergency room, or who called the Health Department, reporting symptoms of salmonella infection — nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. All had eaten zeppole, éclairs or bread made at DeFusco’s, in Johnston, in the days before it was shut down on Friday.

Those people were asked to provide stool samples for testing at the state laboratory; none has yet been confirmed as salmonella. One victim lives out of state.

Seventeen people were sick enough to require hospitalization. Beardsworth said this unusually high rate of hospitalization results from the fact that many people who ate the pastry were elderly and less able to fight off the infection.

Beardsworth said that DeFusco’s Johnston facility had passed routine inspections in April and December of last year.

But when a nursing home outbreak brought inspectors to the facility on Friday, they found that the custard for the pastry was not properly chilled, pastry shells were stored in cardboard boxes where raw eggs had been, and a food safety manager was not on the premises as required, she said.