After today reporting `inconclusive findings,` the Health Protection Agency (HPA) has now confirmed that the norovirus was in fact to blame for the closure of The Fat Duck, having found that infected staff members continued to work while still contagious.
Six staff members and eight diners at Heston Blumenthal’s restaurant in Bray were found to have the norovirus, which is extremely contagious in small spaces. Health and safety guidelines state that infected persons should not work in food preparation areas whilst displaying symptoms (vomiting and diarrhoea), or remaining infectious, which can be up to 48 hours after symptoms have disappeared.
Based on staff interviews, sickness records and samples taken, the HPA said ‘it is clear that staff worked while still infectious with norovirus,’ and found ‘weaknesses in how staff sickness was identified and dealt with.’
The investigation, which has now seen 529 complaints, will continue until all tests are complete. Prior to it’s reopening this month, The Fat Duck received guidance from the HPA and environmental health officers on the identification and management of staff illness.
Blumenthal is currently in Australia for the Melbourne Food and Drink Festival, and was unavailable for comment.