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63 hit by Norovirus at world's Number 1 restaurant

The world’s Number 1 restaurant has been criticised by the Food Standards Agency.

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An inspection of the Noma restaurant in Copenhagen by the Danish Food Standards Agency has established that there have been serious problems at the two-star Michelin restaurant, which has been named the World’s Best Restaurant three times by Restaurant Magazine.

The inspection was carried out following several reports to the agency that guests had become ill after eating at Noma.

“We have established that (Ed: guests) from 12 groups, with 63 ill out of 78 who ate there in the period of 12th Feb. to 16th Feb became ill (vomiting and diarrhoea – Norovirus). At the same time there has been illness among personnel handling food,” the agency says in its inspection report.

Inspectors suggest a sick kitchen assistant was probably responsible for the outbreak of Norovirus.

A kitchen assistant had been ill with vomiting on the evening of February 15, after having produced food at the restaurant during the day. The assistant informed the restaurant of the fact by e-mail that evening.

However the restaurant did not react to the employee’s mail, nor to mails from guests who had eaten there saying they had fallen ill too.

“The enterprise received mails on 14th and 15th February 2013 from 2 companies informing them that two out of two guests in both parties had become ill after having eaten at the restaurant on February 12, 2013 and February 13, 2013. These two outbreaks were not reported to the Agency until February 20th by the person responsible for the restaurant,” The Food Standards Agency says in its report.

The agency goes on to say that Noma did not disinfect its kitchen at the right time, in order to limit the outbreak. It added that there was no hot water in taps used by employees to wash their hands.

“We stress that basins must have running hot and cold water and facilities for hygienic washing and drying of hands. The following has been found: There was no running hot water in the tap at the basin in the preparation area. The company had the following remark: A plumbing company was called in immediately after inspection," the agency report says.

News of the incident comes at the worst possible time for Noma, as the world’s restaurants eagerly await next week’s announcement of which restaurants have received Michelin stars.

Noma currently has two Michelin stars and has been crowned the World’s Best Restaurant three times in a row by Restaurant Magazine.

The Food Standards Agency says in its report that the restaurant must intensify hygiene in connection with food handling.

“We strongly emphasise that food must be protected from contamination that makes it unfit for consumption, a health hazard or contaminated in such a way that it cannot reasonably be seen as fit for consumption,” The agency says.

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