Northern Ireland

Flicks Restaurant: Yorkgate Movie House admits food charges

Flicks Restaurant
Image caption In October 2012, Flicks doors voluntarily closed for the last time two days after the first cases of food poisoning emerged

A former restaurateur, whose premises was linked to a major public health crisis, has pleaded guilty to food hygiene breaches.

At least 134 people contracted E.coli in an outbreak linked to the former Flicks Restaurant in Yorkgate, north Belfast.

As the 11 charges were put to Yorkgate Movie House owner Michael McAdam, he replied: "We plead guilty".

In August 2012, Flicks came under investigation over the E.coli outbreak.

At the time, Mr McAdam claimed hygiene in his kitchen met the highest standards.

"All of our books and health checks are up to date, staff training is all up to date. We have followed every rule and regulation. We take our job seriously and where this came from I have no idea," he said.

However, on Wednesday he admitted charges of 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 micro-organisms or formation of toxins.

In October 2012, Flicks' doors voluntarily closed for the last time two days after the first cases of suspected food poisoning emerged.

In the coming days it was declared a "major public health crisis", later described as the worst outbreak of E.coli in Northern Ireland's history.

By the end of October 2012, the Public Health Agency said there were 134 confirmed and 156 probable cases.

Belfast Crown Court was told on Wednesday that the case against Movie House Cinema Yorkgate Ltd was being brought by Belfast City Council's environmental health and food safety department, and asked that the company be arraigned on the charges.

Mr McAdam, as "a duly appointed representative" for Movie House, pleaded to the charges, which not only predate the first suspected outbreak of food poisoning in August 2012, but also covered the period up to October 12 that year after Flicks had voluntarily shut its doors.

Adjourning the case until next month the judge asked a defence lawyer for an up-to-date report on the company as the court would be considering a financial penalty.

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