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Fat Duck, shut after food poisoning scare, may open this week

The Fat Duck may open this week after being closed due to a food poisoning scare, owner Heston Blumenthal has said.

Update: Fat Duck open

Blumenthal alerted his local council after dozens of diners complained of feeling ill, and closed his restaurant voluntarily last week, cancelling around 400 bookings. The Fat Duck, in Bray, Berkshire, is one of three Michelin three-star restaurants in the UK.

Speaking to Bloomberg.com, Blumenthal said, ‘Every restaurant gets people phoning and saying they’ve got sick, but we’d never had anything like this. There’s been a virus going in this area, and we thought it might be that because we are fastidious about every aspect of hygiene and the symptoms were developing 60 to 70 hours after people’s meals.’

He said he would make the decision on 2 March after all the tests are in, and that he would call all the sick people and invite them back as his guests. ‘I feel dreadful. For more than 14 years I have put so much effort into making it a positive experience – to have to close like this is a real low.’

The restaurant, and Blumenthal, are held in great esteem and the closure has made international headlines. Fellow restaurateurs have jumped to his support, one saying he was ‘massively fastidious’ and his food safety would be ‘second to none.’

Dozens of diners over the last three weeks said they felt ill after their meals, but neither environmental health inspectors nor food safety experts hired privately by the restaurant have been able to find a culprit.

As of a week ago, various food websites reported the restaurant’s sudden closure, which a spokesperson attributed to a power cut. One newspaper, the Daily Mail, quoted an anonymous health inspector speculating on the possibility of sabotage.

Written by Maggie Rosen

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