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Unwashed parsley garnish most likely cause of outbreak

By Lesley-Anne McKeown

Published 30/04/2015

Chopped parsley may have been the origin of the Flicks Restaurant E.coli outbreak.

More than 140 people fell ill in Belfast during a three-month period in 2012, with 19 admitted to hospital.

An 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 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." The 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..

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