‘Assuming the ingredients were really wheat, salt, eggs … hallucinations would not be common’ Three Kings Day bread linked to illnesses

There was a guy I went to high school with who often would take acid before biology class.

He didn’t do so well.

Last year Walmart was linked to an odd case of LSD-laced steak which reportedly caused a family of four (including a pregnant mom) to be hospitalized with hallucinations. According to the Orange County Register, over 30 people have experienced hallucinations this week after eating cake made by Cholula’s Bakery in Santa Ana (CA).nhw2t4-b88305087z.120150108185332000g9u7bdu1.10

Bakery cashier Fidelina Gutierrez ate some of the sweet bread being sold at La Bodega Ranch market in Orange in celebration of Three Kings Day.

It made her sick – but not with the symptoms most commonly associated with food poisoning.

“It felt as if I was in another dimension,” Gutierrez said. “I could feel it closing my throat. It was bad, bad, bad.”

On Thursday, health officials were still working to determine why the cake sickened Gutierrez and nearly 40 others earlier this week with heart palpitations, dizziness, numbness and hallucinatory thoughts – symptoms not typically induced by bacteria, a common trigger of food poisoning. 

“Assuming the ingredients were really wheat, salt, eggs, that sort of stuff, hallucinations would not be common. If you put LSD into something, you might see some of these symptoms,” said Dr. Carl Schultz, a professor of emergency medicine at UC Irvine.

Made with sweet bread, candied fruits and a small baby Jesus figurine inside, rosca de reyes cake is eaten on Jan. 6 to celebrate the Latin American holiday Three Kings Day, honoring the arrival of the three Wise Men.

Jeff Nelken, a Woodland Hills-based food safety consultant, speculated that chemicals on the Jesus figurine might have leeched into the cake. Either that, he said, or it was laced or an employee accidentally mistook a cleaning product or some other chemical for an ingredient.




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About Ben Chapman

Dr. Ben Chapman is a professor and food safety extension specialist at North Carolina State University. As a teenager, a Saturday afternoon viewing of the classic cable movie, Outbreak, sparked his interest in pathogens and public health. With the goal of less foodborne illness, his group designs, implements, and evaluates food safety strategies, messages, and media from farm-to-fork. Through reality-based research, Chapman investigates behaviors and creates interventions aimed at amateur and professional food handlers, managers, and organizational decision-makers; the gate keepers of safe food. Ben co-hosts a biweekly podcast called Food Safety Talk and tries to further engage folks online through Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and, maybe not surprisingly, Pinterest. Follow on Twitter @benjaminchapman.