I don’t know who does public relations for the Fat Duck restaurant but they should be fired.
Seven months after sickening 529 customers with norovirus, Fat Duck chef Heston Blumenthal today said,
"I am relieved to be able to finally offer my fullest apologies to all those who were affected by the outbreak at the Fat Duck. It was extremely frustrating to not be allowed to personally apologise to my guests until now.
"It was devastating to me and my whole team, as it was to many of our guests and I wish to invite them all to return to the Fat Duck at their convenience."
Wow. Saying sorry is not an expression of guilt. It is an expression of empathy. Like, that really sucks you and 528 other people are barfing. I barfed once and it felt awful. Hope you feel better.
Some spokesthingy for the restaurant said,
"The Fat Duck, its insurers, experts and legal advisers only received a copy of this report a few hours before its publication and have only now had time to consider its contents. This meant that until all these parties had had the opportunity to review it and take expert advice it wasn’t appropriate or indeed possible to comment in detail on its contents or respond fully to our customers.”
Of course, that didn’t stop Blumenthal from issuing his own delusional statement on Sept. 10, 2009, as soon as the Health Protection Agency report was released:
“We are glad that the report has finally been published and draws a conclusion to the closure of the Fat Duck and more importantly that the norovirus has been identified as the cause and not due to any lapse in our strict food preparation processes. We were affected by this virus during a national outbreak of what is an extremely common and highly contagious virus. The restaurant has been open as normal since March 12 and I would like to reassure our guests that they can continue to visit us with total confidence.”
All apologies aside, the report clearly stated that the norovirus outbreak – linked to the consumption of raw oysters — continued for at least six weeks because of "ongoing transmission at the restaurant” through "continuous contamination of foods prepared in the restaurant or by person-to-person spread between staff and diners or a mixture of both." The report also identified poor reporting and sick staff showing up and working as factors in making the outbreak far worse than it should have been.
Saying sorry is nice but never enough. The Fat Duck should be judged on its food safety actions.