Hundreds hit by poisoning scare at British restaurant

8th March 2009, Comments 0 comments

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) said the number of cases reported at top chef Heston Blumenthal's eatery had grown after media coverage of the outbreak.

London -- Some 400 people have fallen ill after eating at world-renowned British restaurant The Fat Duck, which was temporarily closed last month due to a food poisoning scare, officials said Friday.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) said the number of cases reported at top chef Heston Blumenthal's eatery had grown after media coverage of the outbreak. Some have reported having fallen ill as early as late January.

"This is a very complex outbreak," said Graham Bickler, regional director of the HPA for the southeast England area which covers the Fat Duck, a Michelin three-starred restaurant in the village of Bray, west of London.

"We are working closely with the restaurant and with colleagues in the Royal Borough's environmental health team to explain what happened and to ensure that the risks of it happening again are reduced as much as possible."

When the problem initially surfaced at the end of February, it was reported that between 30 and 40 people had complained of illness, including diarrhoea and vomiting, over a two to three week period.

The restaurant remains closed, pending further investigations.

Tests have been carried out on staff, as well as on the restaurant and its kitchen to look for possible bacterial or viral contamination of food. Further tests are being conducted, including with those who have fallen ill.

A spokeswoman said the chef was "upset" and "frustrated" by the health scare.

The Fat Duck was named the best restaurant in the world in 2005 by Restaurant magazine and has been in second place since then in their annual poll of international chefs and critics.

Blumenthal takes a scientific approach to cooking and flavours, researching the molecular compounds of dishes.

Diners have to book months in advance to secure a table at The Fat Duck, where the tasting menu costs 130 pounds (185 dollars, 146 euros) and features snail porridge, salmon poached in liquorice gel and nitro-scrambled egg and bacon ice cream.

AFP/Expatica

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