The Salt Lake City-County Health Department shut down the New China Restaurant, 1330 W. 9000 South, West Jordan, Friday because it suspected the restaurant may have caused a salmonella outbreak.

Salmonella is a bacterial disease that can be spread by food that is not cooked to at least 165 degrees. Symptoms include headache, abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea and sometimes vomiting and fever. The illness usually develops six to 72 hours after exposure and subsides in four to seven days.According to Ilene Risk, director of epidemiology for the department, five confirmed cases of salmonella were reported to the department, and all five people ate at the restaurant between March 27 and April 5.

The department suspended the restaurant's permit "due to reports of illness and multiple critical food safety violations," says a release signed by Risk and Jana Carlson-Kettering, the department's public affairs officer.

"The source of the salmonella exposure is most likely eggs, which are frequent carriers of salmonella, but other menu items have not been ruled out. Cross contamination of ready-to-eat or already cooked food items was observed by inspectors," the statement says.

In addition, 75 pounds of food were not handled properly in terms of temperatures, and were ordered destroyed, the department says.

New China Restaurant had been "pooling" eggs, a practice prohibited in the state food code, according to the department. Pooling is cracking more than three eggs and storing the contents together. Cracking more than three and using them immediately is not prohibited.

"The restaurant staff had been warned to cease egg pooling on Wednesday and when the inspectors returned today egg pooling was still being performed," says the statement, released Friday afternoon.

The restaurant will reopen when violations are corrected, the statement adds.

Bosco Liu, owner and manager of New China Restaurant in West Jordan, said health officials are trying to determine the source of the salmonella. "It could be from the eggs from our suppliers, something like that," he said.

Asked about safety violations, Liu said, "There are minor violations but . . . not because of not cleanliness."