jueves, 18 de octubre de 2012

What began as ordinary night out has become food safety nightmare

One of the first cases of E. coli 0157:H7 appears in August

It was an ordinary night out — which has now become unforgettable. At least 20 people have been caught up in the E. coli O157:H7 outbreak — the worst ever seen in Northern Ireland — with another 150 probable cases waiting in the wings. The link? Flicks, a popular north Belfast eaterie situated in landmark retail centre, Cityside Mall.

A spokeswoman from the Public Health Agency, which is investigating an outbreak it has described as a “major public health crisis”, said: “In the context of the probable and confirmed cases, they will all have eaten at Flicks.”
The agency said the numbers are unprecedented — and expected to rise. The outbreak first came to light last Thursday (October 11).  Three family members who had come down with suspected   E. coli 0157:H7 on October 4 were linked to the second case highlighted on October 11.

All the individuals had eaten at Flicks. The restaurant, which was established six years ago, closed its doors on the evening of October 11 voluntarily, after it was contacted by Belfast City Council's environmental health department. It was not the first time that the outlet had appeared on the radar of public health authorities. Extensive tests were carried out at the restaurant in August after it was linked to four E. coli cases the same month.

“That day in August that they (environmental health inspectors) came in, they spent at least four to five hours taking food samples, taking swabs throughout the whole kitchen area,” the restaurant’s proprietor, Michael McAdam, said. “They checked all the health and safety procedures. And after those tests were completed, nothing was found.”

Asked if the restaurant has received any complaints about its hygiene standards, he added: “Not that I’m aware. “In June, we had a request from environmental health to do some repairs. “We closed over the weekend of July 12 and put in new kitchen floors and new plastic walls (in line with hygiene recommendations). Mr McAdam said the outbreak has hit the restaurant's staff hard.

However, a victim of the one of the first cases of E. coli 0157:H7 in August has questioned whether procedures used to inspect the restaurant at that time are sufficient. Paul Devine told the BBC’s Nolan show: “The fact that it (tests in August) comes back negative — and then it can come back positive not that long after — it makes me wonder what their procedures are and is that process working?”
Source: BBC news

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