Last year, the Copenhagen restaurant Noma, was voted the best restaurant in the world for the third consecutive year. Dinner for two at the restaurant can cost upwards of $900 with wine.
Over a four-day period, 63 out of 78 guests who dined in the restaurant became sick.
Danish authorities inspected the restaurant on February 20, after receiving reports that restaurant guests, who dined at Noma between February 12-16, had become ill with Roskilde Sickness — a norovirus that causes vomiting and diarrhea.
The food agency’s inspection revealed a problem with hygiene. “There has been illness among staff who have handled the food products”, the agency wrote in its report.
“The inspection visit was due to guests complaining of vomiting and diarrhoea.”
The restaurant is aware of four additional people who have taken ill, which brings the total number of ill diners up to 67.
Danish authorities criticized Noma for not disinfecting the kitchen in time in order to prevent the contagion from spreading, and found there was no hot water in the taps for staff to wash their hands.
Danish chef René Redzepi developed Noma’s Nordic Cuisine concept of using fresh, organic ingredients found in the Nordic region.
Redzepi, instrumental in making Nordic cuisine known to the world food culture, was named one of the top 100 influential people by Time magazine.
“We think that food from our region deserves to have a voice in the choir of the worlds other great cuisines,” said Noma co-owner Claus Meyer in his New Nordic Cuisine manifesto.
A similar event took place in 2009, when at chef Heston Blumenthal’s three Michelin starred restaurant, The Fat Duck, near London, hundreds of diners reported becoming ill between late January through February of that year.
Blumenthal canceled more than 500 reservations and lost $140,000 weekly in bookings. Blumenthal’s pub, The Hinds Head, located next door also received cancellations.
The restaurant reopened in March 2009 under a veil of mystery until the cause of the illness was later determined to also be from norovirus, which originated from oysters harvested from beds contaminated with sewage by Colchester Oyster Fishery Limited.
The virus was spread further after being contracted by staff members, and was the largest norovirus outbreak ever recorded at a restaurant.
The Uk’s HPA, investigating the outbreak, said the bug was detected in six staff and eight diners, and resulted in a “weaknesses” in how staff illness was dealt with.
Based on staff interviews, sickness records and samples taken, staff worked while still infected with norovirus, the agency stated.
It also revealed the number of cases of reported illness among customers, going back to late January, had risen to 529.