Popular North Reading restaurant forced to close after salmonella outbreak

NORTH READING, Mass. (WHDH/AP) — A Massachusetts restaurant has been shut down until further notice after nearly 40 people reported getting sick during a suspected salmonella outbreak.

The North Reading Board of Health says the state Public Health Department received complaints from 39 people who said they got sick at Kitty’s last month. The state confirmed nine cases of salmonella and 30 suspected cases.

The source of the outbreak was traced to the antipasto salad and possibly the house salad dressing, health officials said.

The restaurant was closed July 5 and allowed to reopen Friday after sanitization.

Health officials say Kitty’s was closed again Monday because an inspection found additional food safety and sanitation concerns, and because some employees returned to work before being cleared by the state.

“The new inspection revealed several food safety and sanitation concerns relating to unsanitary conditions, cross-contamination, and time and temperature abuse violations,” Town Administrator Micahel Gilleberto said.

Restaurant owner Debbie Birkmaier apologized for the health scare and wished those sickened by the outbreak well.

“We’re really sorry. We wish them well,” she said. “Until we know what it is, we really feel bad about it.”

Anyone who may have taken home leftover antipasto salad or house dressing or purchased the items after June 1 is encouraged not to eat them. Anyone who has an unopened bottle of the salad dressing is urged to contact the North Reading Health Department so that it can be tested.

Ownership says they are working with health officials and that they hope to reopen in the near future.

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