ASHERS Baking Company has said “essential construction work” led to the closure of the bakehouse in its Doagh Road building on two occasions this month.
Newtownabbey Borough Council has confirmed that the local bakery was voluntarily closed by company owners following advice from its Environmental Health section.
In a statement to the Times the council said: “Ashers Baking Company, 581 Doagh Road, Newtownabbey, was closed voluntarily by the owners, following the advice of the council’s Environmental Health section, on Tuesday 3 and Wednesday, January 4.
“Subsequently the business reopened on Thursday, January 5, following consultation with and further advice from the council’s Environmental Health section.
“On Monday, January 9 the business was again closed voluntarily by the owners and reopened Tuesday 10 January at 6pm, again following advice from the council’s Environmental Health section.
“Neither of these closures affected Ashers retail shops or the Ballyearl Diner.
“Ashers bakery products are currently for sale as normal in outlets and the bakery is operating as normal.”
When questioned over the nature of the advice provided that led to the closure, another statement by the council stated: “The advice provided to Ashers was related to contraventions in food safety legislation.
“As a result of the advice given by the council’s Environmental Health Officers the owners took the decision to voluntarily close the bakery as detailed in the previous press statement.
“The council can confirm that Environmental Health staff have made regular visits to the premises to carry out inspections of the premises, both during the closures and subsequently.
“The purpose of these visits was to ensure compliance with relevant food laws.
“The council’s Environmental Health Officers as part of their ongoing investigation will continue to monitor the premises.”
In a statement, the family owned bakery added: “Ashers Baking Company would like to express their thanks to all their customers for their understanding and patience in light of their recent temporary closure to allow for essential construction work in the bakery.
“Due to structural impairment of the building, this maintenance work was necessary to ensure adequate assessments and preservations were made to ensure quality standards were met.
“As the bakery normally operates 24 hours a day, we had no choice but to close production temporarily while this construction work was carried out.
“The repairs and voluntary closure were carried out following advice from Newtownabbey Borough Council who assisted us to carry out all the correct procedures with this issue.”
Ashers has became a local success story after husband and wife Colin and Karen McArthur opened their first bakery in Carnmoney in 1992.
Since then the business has grown and expanded to supply major supermarkets, and it includes four shops along with a bakehouse and diner at Ballyearl.