An Australian bakery owner started the New Year by making a “heartfelt apology” for causing an outbreak of Salmonella at Christmas time. He is hoping to save the 50-year-old business and the jobs of his 40 employees by getting the community’s support.

Nathan Assender, owner of Gawler South Bakery in Adelaide, Australia, has re-opened after a Salmonella outbreak during the last two weeks of December was linked to the restaurant. Chicken from the bakery’s sandwich bar is the suspected cause of 17 Salmonella illnesses. Three people required hospitalization.

The Gawler South Bakery first just stopped selling sandwiches with chicken and other fillings in cooperation with South Australian Health, but now Assender has decided his loyal customers want the business open.

He is apologetic about it. “It has come to our attention that some people have fallen ill with salmonella poisoning after consuming fresh roast chicken meals from our bakery recently,” he said. “It is with sincere compassion and genuine sorrow that we apologize to all the people and their families affected by this.”

Assender promised to continue working closely with SA Health to investigate the “source of this event.”

“We hope this apology is received to be genuine and in good faith,” he said. The outbreak investigation has not implicated any bakery or cream products from Gawler South.

Dr. Kevin Buckett, SA’s director of public health, said food businesses and those preparing meals at home need to understand food safety concerns during the busy, warm time of year.

“We urge food handlers to follow these four basic food safety tips: cook food thoroughly; clean hands and surfaces that come into contact with food; chill cooked food quickly and keep it cool until eaten; and separate raw and uncooked from cooked and ready-to-eat products,” Buckett said.

South Australia experiences about 1,500 Salmonella cases a year. Most are from ingesting the bacteria from contaminated food, water, or hands.

No one should handle food while experiencing Salmonella symptoms, which include fever, diarrhea, vomiting, headaches, stomach cramps and loss of appetite.

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