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Restaurant owner charged with health violation

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NASHVILLE — A Nash County restaurant owner has been charged with a public health violation for catering a Wilson wedding with a suspended food permit.

Steven Sauls, owner of Doug Sauls’ Bar-B-Que & Seafood at 813 Western Ave., was charged with the misdemeanor offense on Monday.

Sauls’ restaurant was closed Nov. 22 due to a salmonella outbreak. The catering job was Nov. 23.

Nash County Health Director Bill Hill declined to identify the wedding party, but said the people involved had been notified.

“We were holding our breath, but fortunately no one got sick,” he said.

Hill said Sauls claimed he didn’t use the restaurant to cook the food and instead used a private home.

Hill said he has no reason not to believe Sauls, but Sauls didn’t have a food permit either way.

The restaurant remains closed. Hill said state health officials swabbed the restaurant Monday and he expects the establishment to be able to reopen soon.

“They’ve done a lot of hard work to clean the place,” Hill said of Sauls and his employees.

Sauls couldn’t be reached for comment in time for this story.

The restaurant’s food establishment operating permit was suspended pursuant to N.C. General Statute 130A-23 due to conditions present constituting an imminent health hazard, according to county health officials.

The closure came after the N.C. Department of Agriculture Food Protection Division identified salmonella present in equipment and food that was likely to cause an immediate threat of serious adverse health effects.

Sauls issued a public apology for the closure Nov. 24 on the restaurant’s Facebook page.

Salmonella can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy people infected with salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea that may be bloody, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection can result in more severe illnesses, according to information provided by the county health department.