E. coli in parsley: 141 sickened at Flicks in Ireland, shuttered and fined £110,000

More than 140 people fell ill after dining at Flicks Restaurant in Belfast during a three-month period in 2012.

flicks.belfastAn investigation by the Public Health Agency (PHA) found chopped parsley, used to garnish dishes, had not been adequately washed or refrigerated to kill bacteria.

The disclosure comes as the owners of the restaurant, which is now closed, were fined £110,000 after admitting a series of hygiene breaches.

The PHA report said: “Staff assumed the parsley, which originated in the eastern and western Mediterranean, was supplied to the restaurant as a ready to eat product but this was not the case.

“Washing of the parsley to remove contamination was therefore not identified as a critical control point.

“There was evidence of failure to comply with the legal requirement to keep the prepared parsley refrigerated and this could have facilitated the growth of micro-organisms.”

Not sure what washing would do.

There were 141 clinically confirmed cases of E.coli during the outbreak; 19 people were admitted to hospital and a further 159 presented symptoms.

parsleyThe PHA said poor practices within the restaurant contributed to the spread of the bacteria and that some meals may have been garnished by a food handler who had contracted E.coli.

Staff toilet facilities were found to be inadequate with no soap or drying facilities.

The restaurant closed voluntarily on October 11, 2012, following advice from the Belfast City Council’s environmental health staff.

In a statement, Belfast City Council said the case highlighted the dangerous consequences of hygiene failures.

Flicks owner Michael McAdam told the BBC he was “devastated” that people had become sick.

He said: “I am personally devastated that any business of mine could have caused people to become ill.

“I would just like to take this opportunity, once again, to say how deeply sorry I am to anyone who fell ill as a result of eating at Flicks restaurant.”

The restaurant is not expected to re-open.

Over 300 sickened: We have the highest standards, we plead guilty

In Oct. 2012, reports started trickling in of people sick with E. coli O157 after dining at Flicks, a Belfast restaurant.

flicksBy Nov. 2012, 137 confirmed cases and 164 probable cases of E. coli O157 had been linked to this one restaurant.

“All of our books and health checks are up to date, staff training is all up to date,” co-owner Michael McAdam said at the time.

“We have followed every rule and regulation. We take our job seriously and where this came from I have no idea.”

Yesterday, as the charges were put to Yorkgate Movie House boss McAdam, as an owner of the former Flicks Restaurant, he replied: “we plead guilty”.

The charges included failure to supervise, instruct or train staff in food hygiene; inadequate training for food hygiene procedures; failure to protect foods from E. coli contamination; failures to identify hazards, or to record or monitor them; no cleaning or drying facilities for staff, or even soap in a blocked wash hand basin; and one charge of failing to keep chopped parsley at the proper temperature to prevent pathogenic microorganisms or formation of toxins.

Adjourning the case until next month, Judge Gordon Kerr QC asked defence lawyer Stuart Spence for an up-to-date report on the company as the court would be considering ‘a financial penalty’ in such a case.


300 sickened; Belfast restaurant Flicks to confirm whether it will contest charges over 2012 E. coli O157 outbreak

In Oct. 2012, reports started trickling in of people sick with E. coli O157 after dining at Flicks, a Belfast restaurant.

By Nov. 2012, 137 confirmed cases and 164 probable cases of E. coli O157 had been linked to this one restaurant.

flicks.belfast-300x184Belfast City Council brought charges, and today the restaurant bosses said they will confirm next month whether the charges will be contested.

The Belfast Telegraph reports a court case against Michael McAdam and Gabrielle Tolan over food poisoning allegedly associated with Flicks eatery was adjourned today to allow completion of a food hygiene report.

A case is also being pursued against Movie House Cinema Ltd as the owner of the restaurant. Charges against it include:

– Having no materials for cleaning or hygienically drying hands in the staff toilets and service area wash hand basin.

-Failing to keep staff toilets clean.

-Failing to ensure cooked and ready-to-eat food was not protected at all stages of production, processing and distribution against contamination with E. coli O157 likely to render the food unfit for human consumption.

-Having no soap in a preparation area wash hand basin.

-Kept chopped flat leaf parsley at a room temperature likely to support the growth of pathogenic microorganisms or the formation of toxics.

301 sick – from one restaurant? Flicks E. coli O157 outbreak continues to grow

With 137 confirmed cases and 164 probable cases of E. coli O157 linked to Flicks restaurant in Belfast, and with no public explanation or guess as to how so many could get so sick from one diner in Ireland, the incident is taking on E.coli-O111-in-sprouts proportions.

The only thing investigators will say in the month-long outbreak is people should wash their hands and don’t show up to work sick.


170 now sick; E. coli outbreak linked to Belfast restaurant is ‘a major crisis’

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.

69 sick in E. coli outbreak linked to Belfast restaurant

Twelve confirmed and 57 probable cases of E. coli have been linked to a restaurant in north Belfast, health authorities say.

The diners were struck down after eating at Flicks in Cityside Mall, York Street, in the last three weeks.

Management at the restaurant have voluntarily closed the premises and are co-operating with an investigation by the Public Health Agency (PHA) and environmental health officers from Belfast City Council.

The PHA has advised that anyone who ate at Flicks since September 24 and has symptoms of diarrhoea and/or abdominal pain should contact their GP urgently for medical advice.

The agency has revealed that four cases of the same E.coli O157 strain were linked to the restaurant in August. But it said subsequent tests in the restaurant at that time were negative.

Further environmental health inspections were conducted after those incidents, all of which were satisfactory.

The agency said it was examining whether the current outbreak was linked to the August instances but it was too early to confirm either way.

10 sick in E coli outbreak at Belfast restaurant

A Belfast restaurant has voluntarily closed after an outbreak of E. coli O157.

U.TV reports 10 confirmed or suspected cases of food poisoning that have been identified are linked to Flicks in Cityside Mall at York Street in the city.

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

E. coli food poisoning occurs most often when undercooked beef, especially in mince, burgers and meatballs, is eaten.

The management of Flicks have voluntarily closed the premises and are cooperating with the investigation.

It’s not just undercooking; it’s cross-contamination.