Heston Blumenthal has been forced to temporarily close his Michelin starred London restaurant Dinner after tests confirmed an outbreak of the norovirus vomiting bug.
Dinner by Heston in London’s Mandarin Oriental Hotel locked its doors on Saturday (2 February) for one week, after a small number of diners and staff reported falling ill.
Environmental health officers warned Dinner staff to ‘wash their hands more often’ after their tests found a norovirus outbreak at the restaurant, which late last year gained its second Michelin star.
It is something of a case of deja-vu for Blumenthal, who was forced to close his Fat Duck restaurant in Bray due to a norovirus outbreak in 2009.
Blumenthal said the restaurant contacted local environmental health officers immediately upon hearing reports that some guests had fallen unwell.
Initial tests came back clear but, following fresh reports of illness, further testing found the norovirus in five people, including staff and diners, the restaurant said, adding that the vomiting bug is not always foodbourne.
‘We apologise for any inconvenience caused to those guests whose bookings have been cancelled,’ Blumenthal said in a statement. ‘However, we understand how contagious this winter flu bug can be and will take every precaution necessary to protect our guests.’
Closing the restaurant is the ‘responsible thing to do,’ said James Armitage, food safety manager at Westminster City Council, which counts Dinner within its jurisdiction.
‘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.’
Laboratory confirmed cases of norovirus rose by a third in winter 2012 versus the previous year, to 14,513, according to the UK’s Food Standards Agency.
Written by Chris Mercer