An E. coli outbreak linked to a Belfast restaurant has been described as “major public health crisis” by Northern Ireland’s Public Health Agency (PHA).
The PHA said there are now 20 confirmed cases and 150 suspected cases of food poisoning following an investigation at Flicks restaurant at Cityside Mall.
Six people have been hospitalised since the start of the outbreak, but most have since been discharged.
Dr Michael Devine from the PHA said it was NI’s worst ever E. coli outbreak. and told BBC Radio Ulster’s Nolan Show on Tuesday that the agency was “not in anyway underestimating the scale of what we’re dealing with here.”
Eight children under the age of 14 are among the suspected cases to date, he said.
A separate E. coli outbreak in August affected four people who ate in the same restaurant on York Street.
At the time, the PHA and Belfast City Council environmental health officers carried out an investigation and all tests on the restaurant were negative.
The owner of Flicks, Michael McAdam, said there was “no definitive evidence” in August that the four people had contracted the poisoning at his restaurant.
“I would not dream of opening the doors of a restaurant if we were doing something wrong,” he said.
“It would be commercial suicide and apart from that to endanger people would be ridiculous.”
He added that hygiene in the kitchen met the highest standards.