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Marler Blog Providing Commentary on Food Poisoning Outbreaks & Litigation

Salmonella Outbreak tied to DeFusco’s Zeppoles leaves customers empty

DEFUSCOSBAKERY.pngOn Friday, March 25 the Rhode Island Department of Health issued a recall of all baked goods from DeFusco’s Bakery in Johnston.

Cases of Illness between March 14 – April 7, 2011 (Last Report)

• 79 Cases Total

• 30 Hospitalizations

• 48 Lab-confirmed Salmonella

• 2 Salmonella-associated Deaths

We have been informed that DeFusco’s may well have no insurance and intends to file bankruptcy. DeFusco’s Inspection Report was alarming; the fact that it will leave dozens of families without a likely legal recourse is pathetic.  Here is a “taste” of what was found:

Inspectors say they found pastry cream sitting on the floor, stored at room temperature — a major code violation.

“The temperature of the light cream was 125 degrees F and the temperature of the chocolate cream was 119 degrees F.”

The Health Department requires cream to be cooled to 41 degrees and stored in the refrigerator.

Another violation involves cross-contamination of pastry shells places in egg boxes.

“Ready to eat previously baked pastry shells used for zeppoles, eclairs, and cream puffs, were stored in boxes that were used to store raw shell eggs.”

  • Gabrielle Meunier

    Like I’ve seen now in my own case, there should be a Federal law that requires food sellers (including Bakeries and Restaurants) to have a liability policy equal to their potential liability or they can’t sell food. Doesn’t seem logical that state/local/federal laws allow companies to sell food to the public and not be adequately insured.

  • Maureen O’Brien

    So… what is “adequately insured”? Millions of dollars’ worth of insurance? So only existing big corporate chains will be able to sell food?
    Or are you really interested in creating a sort of bakery and restaurant black market, as exists in many countries where the entry requirements for entrepreneurs are too onerous? “Oh, yeah, I just have a party in my apartment every week, and my friends donate money to cover my expenses. No restaurant here.”

  • But, no insurance at all? No responsibility to the 70 people sickened and the families of the 2 that died?

  • Theresa Kentner

    This is an instance where I’d love to know what someone had to say in response.

  • Gabrielle Meunier

    Every line of business needs insurance to adequately protect their liability. For car drivers it is mandatory so that the public is protected, for Doctors it is mandatory, for many types of public services it is mandatory, Contractors must have insurance or people and other businesses won’t do business with them. But from what I’ve seen, food establishments big or small seem to not be regulated very well as it pertains to liability insurance. Consumers have good faith when they eat, that the business owner (that sold the product) has taken all measures to provide a safe meal/product and if accidents happen (as in this Bakery case and in all cases) that the business owner would be adequately insured. In my experience it generally isn’t that costly for incremental increases in your liability insurance. When you choose to be in business, you choose to own that liability and you want to adequately cover your liability — it is all part of doing business. Insurance is common sense for any business owner to protect themself, for any homeowner, for a boat owner, for an auto owner. Federal and state laws govern many insured areas and business governs it in that your motgage holder on your house or car mandate you have insurance. But food production is different when it comes to insurance limits and I believe it needs better governing over. Any small business owner needs to protects themselves. It is not about being cost prohibitive to start a business — it is about doing it the smart way/ the correct way with a business plan that works.
    In the PCA case where my son was one of hundreds poisoned and this company was selling their products to be an ingredient to thousand and thousands of products and hence feeding millions of people, this company did not have adequate insurance to cover this liability. I have to wonder how many other companies are not adequately/responsibly insured.