After it was announced last week that René Redzepi's Noma had served up a few dozen cases of norovirus, Noma director Peter Kreiner reached out to Eater with a statement (see full statement below; a slightly different version is on Noma's website). According to Kreiner — who says of the incident "It is a matter that deeply affects us all, and that we sincerely regret" — 63 out of 435 diners between February 12 and 16 were infected. (That number is lower than the previously reported 67.) Diners have been "informed and offered either to return as our guests or to be fully refunded," and according to Redzepi, many of them have elected to return to the restaurant.
Kreiner adds that since the restaurant discovered the outbreak, it has been deep cleaned "several times following Health Inspection guidelines." All of the food from the time of the outbreak has been destroyed.
Redzepi told Lisa Abend at Time, "We're a restaurant that's known for perfection, and suddenly there's a stain on us. It's like a prize fighter who only has knockouts to his name suddenly finding himself on the floor." Noma is about to defend its title as number one restaurant in the world when the World's 50 Best Restaurants list is announced at the end of April (PDF). Below, a statement from Noma and a fact sheet concerning the outbreak.
March 8, 2013 - Statement
At noma, having happy and satisfied guests is our number one priority. It is paramount to our daily work and lives.
Unfortunately during week 7 2013, there were a number of cases where guests at noma where hit by Norovirus after their visit. In total there were 63 out of 435 guests during the period that were affected. It is a matter that deeply affects us all, and that we sincerely regret.
Since receiving the news from our customers, we have worked very closely with the Danish Food & Drug Administration to get to the bottom of it and to find the source of the problem. As a result of our collaboration with the Danish Food & Drug Administration, we have determined that the most likely cause of illness was Norovirus, which may have been brought in by an unfortunate employee who was not showing any symptoms.
As a precaution the kitchen and restaurant have been deep cleaned several times following Health Inspection guidelines. This has been done on top of the overall cleaning, which takes place several times a day in the kitchen. Finally, all foods from week 7 were destroyed.
We have been in direct dialogue with those customers affected.
Facts about norovirus at noma from Feb 12 – Feb 16, 2013
• When did it happen
Tuesday Feb 12 – Saturday Feb 16, noma was hit by norovirus, and according to the Danish Food & Drug Administration/health department, it was spread to guests via a staff member, who hasn't shown any symptoms of norovirus.
• Number of sick guests
There were 63 guests who got sick during this time period out of a total of 435 guests.
• Response time
Noma received the first e-mail in Danish from a Danish guest on Feb 14. This e-mail was received by a non-Danish speaking employee, who forwarded it to the Restaurant manager on Friday Feb 15—this is the standard procedure when receiving emails in Danish. The manager was in the middle of service on this day, after which time he left for the weekend without checking e-mails. He read the e-mail on Monday Feb 18, which is a day when the restaurant is closed, and immediately forwarded it to Director Peter Kreiner, who at that time already had received a call from the Danish Health Department.
We immediately changed our internal procedures so that all e-mails in Danish will be forwarded to more people on the noma team, to ensure the appropriate action can be taken in a more timely manner.
• Actions taken in the kitchen
After having spoken with the Heath Department on Monday Feb 18, the day the restaurant was closed, noma staff started out on Tuesday morning by re-setting and desinfecting the kitchen thoroughly. This procedure also includes disposal of all produce which had been touched during the previous days. The procedure was repeated 3 more times during the following 48 hours.
On Feb 20, noma had a meeting and inspection with the Danish Food & Drug Administration/Health department.
• Hot water in the tubs
noma is required to have at least one sink only for washing hands in the kitchen. Noma has kitchens on two floors. On both floors noma has two sinks. On the day when it was tested, Wednesday Feb 20, three worked to full satisfaction with very hot water, and the last one in the prep-kitchen was only luke-warm when tested. Noma's reaction was to call a plummer immediately to fix the problem, which was fixed.
Policy for sick employees
Noma has always had a strict policy for employees showing signs of sickness, and that is to send them home immediately and ask them to stay home for 48 hours even after they feel well again.
• Our affected guests
Director Peter Kreiner reached out to all the parties right after having received the notice, and informed them of the findings and assured them that noma was cooperating closely with the Danish Food & Drug Administration/Health department to get to the bottom of this, and that they would be kept updated. The cooperation included tests of norovirus among both staff as well as guests. When the first results came in, indicating norovirus, the guests were informed and subsequently offered either to come back for a new dinner of have a refund. A number of guests have already accepted the offer to return to noma.
• Publication of the case
On Thusday Feb 28, noma received a copy of the new report from the Danish Food & Drug Administration/Health department, which on Friday March 1, must replace the old one in the front of the restaurant, so it is visible for the guests before they enter the restaurant.
On the morning of March 1, the most recent report from the Danish Food & Drug Administration/health department is displayed in front of the restaurant for all guests to see and reference.