This past February, 529 customers fell ill after eating at the Fat Duck (an English restaurant presided over by Heston Blumenthal, considered one of the finest chefs in the world). Now we know why ... why they fell ill, that is.
Britain’s Health Protection Agency has just published a 47-page report documenting the health issues that caused the Fat Duck to remain closed for nearly three weeks in the wake of the food poisoning outbreak.
The main problem? Raw oysters that had become infected with norovirus, having been contaminated by raw sewage from the inhabitants of Essex (where the restaurant’s supplier is based). That and the fact that a number of staff members cooked meals or served food while they themselves were sick with norovirus.
In addition, the report traces customer illnesses to the cooked razor clams. And the Agency also criticizes the Fat Duck for inadequate cleaning procedures, as well as waiting too long to shut down the establishment after customers reported becoming sick.
The health problems cost the Fat Duck a considerable amount of business in the immediate wake of the shutdown, but Blumenthal seems to have come through the ordeal with his reputation squeaky clean. Last month the Good Food Guide assigned him a 10/10 rating, the only chef in Britain to earn the Guide’s highest possible score.
Meanwhile, the Fat Duck, located in Bray (approximately an hour outside London), has been open without incident since March 12.