In more bad news for world-class restaurants, Danish newspapers are reporting that René Redzepi's Noma just got a less than favorable inspection from national food authorities after 67 guests fell ill after dining there. According to the Copenhagen Post, 63 who ate at Noma from February 12-16 developed a norovirus that causes vomiting and diarrhea. In addition, another four diners were apparently taken ill in another, unspecified, time period.
These illnesses naturally prompted a visit from Denmark's food authorities, who have cited Noma for having hygiene problems, such as "no running hot water faucet at the sink in preparation area." The restaurant has been docked from an "elite smiley" inspection mark to a somewhat less smiley face, according to Politiken, which also has a statement from Noma's Peter Kreiner saying, "It is a matter that deeply affects us all, and we are very sad." He explains that the virus seems to have been brought in by a sick employee, though they have not officially found the source of the infection.
In their report, health inspectors also chide Noma for failing to answer emails from sick guests and the one sick employee in a timely fashion, writing, "We recognize that the internal procedure has not been good enough and because of the bustle, the employee did not read mails" that warned of the sickness. But Politiken reports that now the kitchen at Noma has been disinfected "several times" and potentially affected food has been destroyed. Kreiner tells the paper that the restaurant is in talks with the sick diners regarding compensation.
Of course, it's not unheard of for a renowned restaurant to be the site of a norovirus outbreak. Heston Blumenthal's The Fat Duck had its own norovirus outbreak back in 2009. Similarly to this Noma case, the restaurant was accused of having a delayed response to the illness. The Fat Duck "ended up being closed for three weeks in total, and Blumenthal apologized and compensated diners who fell ill. Nevertheless, some of the affected diners filed lawsuits against the chef."
Update: Noma managing director Peter Kreiner told Reuters: "We are in the business of making people happy and taking care of our guests, so this is the worst thing that could happen to us... We are extremely sorry about all of this and I have personally been in dialogue with all the guests who were affected and discussed compensation for them."
· World's greatest restaurant makes people sick [The Copenhagen Post]
· Noma on roskilde sick guests: 'The matter affects us deeply' [Politiken]
· All Noma Coverage on Eater [-E-]