Heston Blumenthal of The Fat Duck continues to blame others for over 500 getting sick in his restaurant; manuals are not the basis of food safety

When naïve me and my students started out to improve the microbial safety of Ontario greenhouse tomatoes and cucumbers back in 1997, the former of which still dominate the Manhattan (Kansas) marketplace, we thought, OK, we’ll make a food safety manual.

We had another idea, which was to actually go out and talk to people, and we found out the manual pretty much stayed on the shelves.

So when Heston Blumenthal, a UK chef who says that after 529 people barfed from norovirus at his famed Fat Duck restaurant,

“Our staff training manual very clearly lays out a 48-hour return to work policy – you don’t come back to work until 48 hours after you feel better – and I don’t know many restaurants that do that,”

I sorta wanna barf. People don’t read manuals and they don’t follow them. And why would anyone pay a couple hundred bucks to eat at this dude’s restaurant when he had no idea of food safety or sourcing food from safe supplies.

To me, Heston Blumenthal sounds like that rapper douche, Chris Brown, who keeps popping up to say he don’t know what happened when he beat his girlfriend at the time, Rihanna, but that people are still supposed to listen to him.

Heston, the famed chef of The Fat Duck, told This is London in a story published yesterday,

Legal constraints during the investigation by the Health Protection Agency, and again during further investigative work by insurers, effectively gagged him.

It’s clear that he found this enormously frustrating, and hated not being able to talk.

"The insurance company just put a big veil over everything too. For a while, I wasn’t allowed to go to Bray because the place was crawling with reporters."

The source was eventually traced to a specific strain of norovirus, or vomiting bug, found in oysters served in two dishes – "Jelly of Oyster and Passionfruit with Lavender", and the "Sound of the Sea".

"The report insinuated things that I find really frustrating," says Blumenthal. "For example, that people were back at work while they were physically ill.

"Now, our staff training manual very clearly lays out a 48-hour return to work policy – you don’t come back to work until 48 hours after you feel better – and I don’t know many restaurants that do that.

"I’d say there’s no other restaurant in the history of Britain that’s gone through such an investigation and then had the results released fully to the public in such detail."

"You have to ask the question: how is it that oysters are allowed to be harvested from waters containing sewage – at low levels, but sewage nevertheless – when this thing is so horrendously contagious?

"You only need one spore, and an oyster with a virus is still a glisteningly fresh clean oyster. It has no smell, and it’s very hard to test for."

It’s not a spore, it’s a virus. And since it’s so hard to test for, maybe you shouldn’t serve oysters raw if you don’t want your customers to barf.

Oh and Heston, I played with liquid nitrogen 25 years ago doing DNA sequencing; doesn’t make you a rock star; especially if over 500 people barf on your watch.

As the U.K. Health Protection Agency concluded earlier this year,

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

As I’ve said, it’s the chef’s responsibility to source food from safe sources. 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.