Blumenthal savaged by health watchdog

Restaurant criticised over virus that affected more than 500 diners

Staff at the Fat Duck restaurant should not have been working when they were infected with the highly contagious norovirus, a Government health watchdog complained yesterday.

In its first public criticism of the head chef and proprietor, Heston Blumenthal, the Health Protection Agency said it had identified "weakness" in the way his world-famous restaurant had dealt with ill staff, who should have stayed off work for at least 48 hours after they last had diarrhoea or vomiting.

The HPA also disclosed the number of people claiming to have fallen ill after eating at the Fat Duck had risen to 529 – up 30 per cent on the previous figure of 400.

Health officials are expected to continue investigating for a month before they issue a final report on the illness linked to the Fat Duck in Bray, Berkshire, one of only three restaurants in Britain with three Michelin stars. As The Independent revealed yesterday, Blumenthal told an Australian journalist at the Melbourne Food and Wine Festival that the most likely cause of the outbreak was the norovirus rather than food poisoning – which he said was "categorically" not the case.

He disclosed that three members of staff and five customers had tested positive for norovirus.

In a statement yesterday, the HPA said norovirus had been detected in six staff and eight diners – and criticised the Fat Duck. "The in-depth investigation into what has caused 529 people to date to report being ill after eating at the restaurant is continuing and so far the Health Protection Agency has detected norovirus infection in six staff and eight diners and weaknesses in how staff sickness was identified and dealt with," the HPA said.

"Based on staff interviews, sickness records and samples taken, it is clear that staff worked while still infectious with norovirus. HPA guidance states that people should not work in food preparation while they have symptoms/are infectious as a result of diarrhoea and vomiting to avoid the risk of passing the infection to others."

The HPA revealed that advice given to the restaurant prior to its reopening last week "included guidance on the identification and management of staff illness".

Blumenthal has described the Fat Duck as a "labour of love" but the premises are small, seating only 40 diners at each session, and it is not believed to generate large profits.

The restaurant industry has been criticised in the past for failing to pay sick staff, who, it is said, continue turning up for work even if they may have an infectious disease that could be passed on to diners.

Sport
England's women celebrate after their 3rd place play-off win against Germany
Women's World CupFara Williams converts penalty to secure victory and bronze medals
Arts and Entertainment
Ricardo by Edward Sutcliffe, 2014
artPortraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb go on display
News
newsHillary Clinton comments on viral Humans of New York photo of gay teenager
Arts and Entertainment
The gang rape scene in the Royal Opera’s production of Gioachino Rossini’s Guillaume Tell has caused huge controversy
music
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - Junior / Mid Weight

    £15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: To support their continued grow...

    Recruitment Genius: Transportation Contracting Manager

    £33000 - £38000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A global player and world leade...

    Recruitment Genius: Hotel and Spa Duty Manager

    £18000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you are friendly, sociable, ...

    Recruitment Genius: Payroll and Benefits Co-ordinator

    £22300 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This museum group is looking for a Payro...

    Day In a Page

    The Greek referendum exposes a gaping hole at the heart of the European Union – its distinct lack of any genuine popular legitimacy

    Gaping hole at the heart of the European Union

    Treatment of Greece has shown up a lack of genuine legitimacy
    Number of young homeless in Britain 'more than three times the official figures'

    'Everything changed when I went to the hostel'

    Number of young homeless people in Britain is 'more than three times the official figures'
    Compton Cricket Club

    Compton Cricket Club

    Portraits of LA cricketers from notorious suburb to be displayed in London
    London now the global money-laundering centre for the drug trade, says crime expert

    Wlecome to London, drug money-laundering centre for the world

    'Mexico is its heart and London is its head'
    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court that helps a winner keep on winning

    The Buddhist temple minutes from Centre Court

    It helps a winner keep on winning
    Is this the future of flying: battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks?

    Is this the future of flying?

    Battery-powered planes made of plastic, and without flight decks
    Isis are barbarians – but the Caliphate is a dream at the heart of all Muslim traditions

    Isis are barbarians

    but the Caliphate is an ancient Muslim ideal
    The Brink's-Mat curse strikes again: three tons of stolen gold that brought only grief

    Curse of Brink's Mat strikes again

    Death of John 'Goldfinger' Palmer the latest killing related to 1983 heist
    Greece debt crisis: 'The ministers talk to us about miracles' – why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum

    'The ministers talk to us about miracles'

    Why Greeks are cynical ahead of the bailout referendum
    Call of the wild: How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate

    Call of the wild

    How science is learning to decode the way animals communicate
    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'