UK & World News

  • 3 February 2014, 1:57

Heston Restaurant Shut As Diners Hit By Bug

TV chef Heston Blumenthal has shut his gourmet London restaurant after 45 diners and staff fell ill with a stomach bug.

The "culinary alchemist" has apologised to customers at his exclusive two Michelin-starred Dinner, which will remain closed for a week.

A total of 24 diners and 21 members of staff were infected with the winter vomitingbug,norovirus, according to Westminster City Council.

James Armitage, the council's food safety manager, said: "Test results this week have shown that there has been an outbreak of norovirus at the Dinner restaurant at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Knightsbridge.

"The operators have now temporarily closed the restaurant and we believe this is the responsible thing to do.

"Westminster City Council food safety officers have already carried out a thorough inspection of both the restaurant premises and working practices and will continue to work closely with Public Health England and the restaurant operators until the restaurant is given the all-clear.

"We have already asked the restaurant to improve some of its hygiene procedures - including telling staff to wash their hands more often. All the changes were made immediately."

Speaking to the Mail on Sunday, the 47-year-old said his personal experience and knowledge of the virus meant he knew that it was best to "err on the side of extreme caution".

Blumenthal said that he aimed to amaze guests with "taste sensations beyond their imagination" rather than exposing them to a "really nasty couple of days of heaving".

Blumenthal's award-winning Fat Duck, in Bray, Berkshire, was left out of action for two weeks in 2009 following an outbreak of the winter bug.

That outbreak left over 500 people feeling sick.

Dinner's website said that it was expected to remain closed for a week from today.

It opened to critical acclaim in 2011 and specialises in historical English food. It caters for about 1,000 customers a week.

A meal for two can cost around 190, and signature dishes include the Meat Fruit recipe from 1500 - a chicken liver mousse made to look like a mandarin orange.

An investigation into the Fat Duck outbreak in 2009 found that norovirus was brought into the restaurant by shellfish contaminated with human sewage.

The highly-contagious norovirus is the most common stomach bug in the UK. It causes vomiting and diarrhoea and can be spread from contaminated surfaces and equipment or if an infected person does not wash their hands before handling food.

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