VICTOR HARBOR – The past month has been tough for Tony Clark and Debbie Joy, who manage The Pork Pie Shop in Victor Harbor.
The English smallgoods business has been under scrutiny from SA Health and Primary Industries and Regions SA (PIRSA), the public and the media, after a Salmonella infection outbreak was pinpointed to egg wash used on pork pies and Ascot pies made at the shop.
Twelve people aged between 19 and 82 were affected by the outbreak, including four who were hospitalised.
Among those hospitalised was Debbie herself, so she understands how unpleasant the infection is.
The couple expressed their “deepest concerns and sympathy” to those who were affected by the “hideous” infection.
“We would like to thank the community mostly for the enormous amount of support they have shown,” Debbie said.
”It was soul-destroying when it happened.
“It has been overwhelming but encouraging as we wanted to walk away when this first developed.”
They said they first heard about the outbreak on the radio, which was a shock, but SA Health had since been nothing but supportive in their investigation.
An investigation to determine what had caused the infection originally found the pies were at fault, before further examination revealed the egg wash used on the pies had not been cooked properly.
“Out of 68 samples taken, only three points of interest were discovered: the egg glaze, the mug the egg glaze was in, and three unfilled pies,” Debbie said.
The couple closed the shop for a week as a chance to reflect, but doors are open again after they were given the all-clear.
“After working closely with both SA Health and PIRSA, we are producing a better pie than ever before,” Debbie said.
Although business has dropped off significantly since the outbreak, they still have the community’s support and hope to build their brand up again by continuing to provide quality goods.
“We didn’t really know how the public would accept us when we re-opened, but we were willing to try and to our surprise, our wholesale customers were eager to have our products back on their shelves ASAP,” Debbie said.
“We are re-opened and our serious pork pie lovers can now purchase our pies at any one of our 30 wholesale businesses across Adelaide.”
SA Health food and controlled drugs branch director Dr Fay Jenkins reminded people cooking with eggs to practice safe egg handling.
“About half of all Salmonella cases we see are linked to eggs, so it is important that everyone uses safe food handling techniques at all times when using them,” Dr Jenkins said.