Celebrity chef dumbass: Fat Duck felled by norovirus in raw oysters; ‘weaknesses in procedures – delayed response to incident’

Chapman occasionally comes up with a good line. Usually, I do all the work on a piece (at least in my mind), and he’ll put in one sentence, but it will be the one that is remembered.

Why didn’t I think of that?

Chapman described celebrity chef and molecular gastrologest Heston Blumenthal (below, right) as the love child of Alton Brown and longtime Toronto Maple Leaf hockey player Mats Sundin (right).

Why didn’t I think of that.

Blumenthal’s Fat Duck restaurant – which is consistently rated as the best in the U.K. – was the source of over 500 illnesses in early 2009. At the time, Blumenthal said, “tests for viral infections and food poisoning have proved negative and there is speculation that the winter outbreak of norovirus could be the real reason why they became sick.”

Way to blame the consumer, those paying hundreds of pounds for the privilege of barfing.

The U.K. Health Protection Agency published a report on the outbreak today that concluded:

*       There was a large outbreak of food poisoning among diners at the Fat Duck Restaurant in January and February 2009, with more than 500 reporting illness – over 15% of those dining there during this period

*       The organism responsible was norovirus which was probably introduced via shellfish (more diners who ate shellfish dishes reported illness). Oysters were served raw; razor clams may not have been appropriately handled or cooked; tracing of shellfish to source showed evidence of contamination and there have been reports of illness in other establishments associated with oysters from the same source

*       The outbreak continued for at least six weeks (between January 6 and February 22) because of ongoing transmission at the restaurant – which may have occurred through continuous contamination of foods prepared in the restaurant or by person-to-person spread between staff and diners or a mixture of both

*       Several weaknesses in procedures at the restaurant may have contributed to ongoing transmission including: delayed response to the incident; staff working when they should have been off sick and using the wrong environmental cleaning products

*       Delays in notification of illness may have affected the ability of the investigation to identify the exact reason for the norovirus contamination

It’s the chef’s responsibility to source food from safe sources. And if the chef thinks raw shellfish is a smart thing to serve, and to have sick workers working, then, customers get what they pay for.