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Sheetz Brothers Work To Regain Customer Trust

Salmonella Scare May Be Over

July 18, 2004

IRWIN, Pa. -- In an effort to rebuild public trust in their namesake stores after a recent salmonella poisoning scare, the Sheetz brothers got behind the cash registers of some of their Westmoreland County stores on Sunday.

"The sales in this area have taken a hit and I think the confidence of our customers is lower here," said company Chairman Steve Sheetz at the convenience store in Irwin.

"I know there are people who have definitely made a choice to eat somewhere else," said customer Rob DiCristofaro, who was buying a sub sandwich.

More than 60 cases of salmonella poisoning have been traced to Sheetz convenience stores, 50 of those in Pennsylvania. But on Friday, the Department of Agriculture reported that of 44 Sheetz food samples, all tested negative for salmonella bacteria.

"There will be a lot more results coming out over the next week or so, and we are very hopeful -- we're also confident -- that they will be negative as well," said company President Steve Sheetz.

Although it isn't clear exactly where the contamination came from, tomatoes grown with animal manure for fertilizer have been replaced with another kind not grown with fertilizer. Animal manure can sometimes carry the bacteria.

Lettuce suppliers were also switched, according to the company.

Some customers responded positively to the move.

"I realize that when they find a problem like this, they go through and they clean it, so it's nothing to me," said a Sheetz's regular customer, Kelly Ritson, of Greenburg.

But Steve Sheetz knows he needs to reach other customers.

"It's the ones outside of here that made a decision not to stop in today that we probably need to get to," he said.

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