The famous Bray, England restaurant, the Fat Duck, has been roundly criticised in a new report on the outbreak of food poisoning amongst its customers in 2009.
A new paper published in the journal Epidemiology and Infection claims that the restaurant only notified public health authorities six weeks after the first suspected case.
Chef/patron of the Fat Duck Heston Blumenthal is variously known as the world's best chef and England's culinary genius, but he has emerged from this report as a less than professional operator who put his customers' lives at risk from a norovirus outbreak.
The journal's report claims as many as 240 cases of norovirus infection had their origin in the restaurant. Had Blumenthal notified authorities sooner, the authors claim, many of these cases could have been avoided.
The Fat Duck was closed after 66 complaints from diners about food poisoning subsequent to them eating Blumenthal's food late in February 2009. The report also claims that "deep cleaning" of the restaurant during the closed period compromised health officials' ability to isolate the cause of the outbreak.
“The reported illness in February 2009 at The Fat Duck was confirmed as oysters contaminated at source by norovirus. At the time we voluntarily closed the restaurant and called in the authorities. We are satisfied with all our procedures that were in place and strongly refute any accusations of wrongdoing,” said a Fat Duck spokesman, refuting any claims of mismanagement by the restaurant.
“We also received full support by our insurers who found no fault in our practices following a report from a leading UK independent specialist,” he added.