Mystery illness may be norovirus: UK chef Blumenthal
LONDON (Reuters Life!) - The illness which struck around 400 diners at top British restaurant The Fat Duck was possibly caused by the highly contagious "norovirus" but definitely not by food poisoning, its owner has said.
Heston Blumenthal, widely regarded as one of the world's greatest chefs, said exhaustive tests on staff and customers had suggested the infection was the only likely cause of the outbreak of illness.
The award-winning restaurant in Bray, Berkshire, which has three Michelin stars, was forced to close on February 24 after diners were struck by diarrhea and vomiting.
It reopened two weeks later after being given the all clear by health and environmental inspectors. Blumenthal said 200 tests had been carried out and all had come back negative for food poisoning or hygiene problems.
"It is categorically not food poisoning, we know that," the chef told Hospitality magazine during a trip to Australia.
"The only thing that has come up is that three staff and five customers have been tested positive for something called norovirus."
The highly infectious virus, which is common in Britain over the winter months, brings on symptoms of nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, fever and muscle pain.
The Health Protection Agency said last week investigations into the cause were continuing.
"Results of some tests are still awaited and the detailed questioning of people who reported illness is likely to continue for some weeks in order to build a more complete picture," it said in a statement. Continued...