Own a restaurant?
You'll need insurance.
Would You Like a Side of Norovirus
With Those Oysters?
You may be only too aware of a particularly nasty ailment called norovirus. It is
actually likely that you are more familiar with its effects; namely
nausea, vomiting, dehydration and the immortally-dreaded diarrhoea.
In other words, norovirus is considered to be the "grandaddy" or all
stomach bugs. Such instances of food poisoning are indeed quite
rare, but as the restaurant The Fat Duck proves, even the most
reputable establishments cannot avoid the devastating effects of
In January of 2009, this Berkshire restaurant was all but famous
throughout the region for its exquisite line of cuisine. What makes
this story even more painful is that The Fat Duck had (and still
has) no less than a three-Michelin star rating and it was previously
voted as the Best Restaurant in the UK. Still, patrons that were
dining during the chilly evenings in January may have slightly
disagreed with these accolades.
One of the favourite dishes at the Fat Duck were oysters. These
seafood delights were eaten by countless customers and to the
restaurant's chagrin, it seemed that someone who had been infected
with norovirus had inadvertently contaminated the oysters during
their handling. The end result was the mass food poisoning of no
less than approximately two hundred and forty patrons (at least
those who reported the illness). This was actually seen as the worst
outbreak of the norovirus in any eating establishment in the entire
United Kingdom since records have been kept!
One of the issues with the severity of the outbreak was said to be
the pronounced delays in reporting the suspected outbreak to the
relevant authorities. After the pesky disease had subsided, the Food
Standards Agency modified their guidelines for the categorisation
and reporting of any suspected outbreak. Thankfully, the reputation
of The Fat Duck seemed to have been the only aspect to have emerged
unscathed; the demand for reservations did not diminish and while
there is no doubt that the owner's pride suffered (as did the bowels
of the patrons) a bit, it was found that the establishment did not
violate any food safety regulations and therefore, its insurance
premiums, presumably, did not go through the roof. Nonetheless, this outbreak caused untold
embarrassment to The Fat Duck and it is quite reasonable to assume
that a good portion of the customers that experienced this painful
illness still have not returned.