57 people to be tested for E.coli

Published Monday, 15 October 2012
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Fifty seven people are to be tested for E.coli food poisoning after an outbreak of the illness was linked to a Belfast restaurant.

57 people to be tested for E.coli
A number of people have taken ill. (© UTV)

Flicks, in Cityside Mall, at York Street in the city voluntarily closed on Thursday night as a result of the outbreak.

So far 12 cases have been confirmed.

The Public Health Agency (PHA) and Environmental Health Officers are investigating.

E. coli food poisoning occurs most often when undercooked meat is eaten, particularly chicken or minced beef.

Cross contamination between raw and cooked food can also cause illness.

The restaurant management is cooperating fully with the investigation.

Dr Carolyn Harper, of the Public Health Agency, told UTV:"There are quite a number of different possible sources here and the investigation to identify the exact source is ongoing.

"It's obviously too early in this investigation to identify any particular source at this stage."

Dr Harper said the incubation period for E.coli is two to three days after exposure, but it could take up to ten days before symptoms develop.

Anyone who has eaten at Flicks restaurant since 24 September and has diarrhoea or abdominal pain is advised to contact their GP urgently.

Michael McAdam, the restaurant owner, has described the outbreak as "a living nightmare."

The restaurateur said he went into the kitchen of Flicks on Thursday night and stopped staff delivering food to the customers.

"The minute we were told that we had a problem, we immediately closed the restaurant.

"As the doctor [Carolyn Harper] has pointed out, nobody knows where this has come from and, you know, there are just so many ways this could be spread."

He said he has been left wondering how the outbreak happened, adding: "But it has happened and it is just devastating to us all."

Four cases of E. coli O157 among adults were linked to Flicks restaurant in August, the PHA confirmed.

However, all tests at the restaurant were negative.

Belfast City Council Environmental Health Officers investigated the incidents with the PHA.

Further environmental health inspections were conducted, all of which were satisfactory, and enhanced surveillance to monitor for cases was also put in place.

The latest cases came to light through that enhanced monitoring, the PHA explained.

Any potential link with the previous cases will be examined as part of current investigations.

A spokesperson for the agency said that "it is too early to comment further on this at such an early stage."

© UTV News
Comments Comments
Sekonda in Holywood wrote (836 days ago):
It's a sham this happened, I ate in flicks with my father on the 26th and our food was delicious. We were returning this Wednesday but apparently they are shut now.
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