A BAKER has spoken of his relief after his shops were cleared of any link to an outbreak of Hepatitis A. 

Andrew Chisholm, owner of JB Christie Baker’s, voluntarily shut his two high street bakeries and ordered the immediate withdrawal of products after being linked to multiple cases of the virus in Airdrie, Lanarkshire.

NHS Lanarkshire’s Department of Public Health said that nine patients had been treated after the bug was first diagnosed last Thursday, with a similar number suspected having the flu-like illness -which can cause nausea, fever and abdominal pains. Patients were treated in Monklands Hospital.

Initial probes by health chiefs said the infection was possibly linked to the bakery, but a probe, including staff blood tests, failed to turn up any sign of the virus.

Mr Chisholm now intends to re-open both shops, saying that he viewed it as his “civic duty” to shut as soon as the link was made.

He said: “As a business, we have fully and voluntarily co-operated with Lanarkshire NHS and Environmental Health Officers during this process.

“As of this morning all staff at the bakery have been blood tested and have been found to be clear of the infection. Also as a precaution all have been vaccinated for Hepatitis A.

“As such, JB Christie has been given a clean bill of health and we will re-open tomorrow. Please be assured that we have taken this incident very seriously indeed.”

The bakery was established in the town by the Christie family in the 1930s and taken over by Mr Chisholm four years ago following the death of John Christie, the founder’s grandson.

It currently employs 50 people and is well regarded in the community as a quality local firm.

Mr Chisholm said that he had contacted outlets he supplies in North Lanarkshire as well as one in Cambuslang and one in West Lothian asking them to withdraw some products from sale.

Both stores had undergone a deep clean and that all fresh ingredients and food stuffs present in the store had been disposed of. 

The baker said: “I have made my career in this industry and I bought the JB Christie business just over four years ago and I am proud to have done so.

“My team are all professional and hard working so I hope that now we have a clean bill of health, that our community will get behind us and support us as we continue to deliver a great range of award winning products.

“I am very happy to talk to any of our customers who remain in any way concerned.”

Dr Josephine Pravinkumar, NHS Lanarkshire consultant in Public Health Medicine said: “Our initial investigations have indicated that there may be a link between these cases and the bakery.

“We would like to thank everyone at the bakery for helping us with the investigation to identify any possible source.

“Once informed of the matter, the bakery owners took the decision to temporarily close their bakery and their two retail outlets in Airdrie and Coatbridge immediately and are fully cooperating with environmental health officers and public health staff.

 “All staff at the bakery are being provided with information and support and necessary actions are being taken to prevent any further infection”