Heston Blumenthal will not face legal action over norovirus outbreak

26 October 2009 by
Heston Blumenthal will not face legal action over norovirus outbreak

Celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal will not face legal action over the food poisoning outbreak at his three-Michelin-starred restaurant the Fat Duck.

Blumenthal closed the iconic restaurant in Bray, Berkshire, for two weeks in February and March after more than 500 diners were struck down by norovirus, or winter vomiting bug.

The Health Protection Agency (HPA) released a report on its investigation into the outbreak last month stating the official cause was contaminated shellfish.

The report pointed to "several weaknesses in procedures" at the Fat Duck including delayed response to the incident and staff working when they should have been off sick.

However, environmental health officers at Windsor and Maidenhead Council have now decided not to prosecute Blumenthal over the reported health and safety breaches.

"After careful consideration of all the facts surrounding this outbreak, it has been determined, in line with our Corporate Enforcement Policy, that while there were some actions which could have been taken which may have lessened the severity of the outbreak and the number of diners affected, there is insufficient evidence to show any clear breaches under Food Safety legislation and no further formal action will be taken on this occasion," a spokeswoman for the council told the Daily Telegraph.

A spokeswoman for the Fat Duck welcomed the council's decision.

"We are not surprised by the local authority's decision, given that the HPA's report clearly concludes that responsibility for the outbreak lies with a shellfish supplier and the local water authority after its shellfish was contaminated with the norovirus," she said.

Last month, Blumenthal criticised the HPA for the handling of its report.

Speaking at Caterer and Hotelkeeper's2009 Chef Conference at the Jumeirah Carlton Tower hotel in London, he called on the organisation to provide more support to the industry.

"There is a real lack of support to restaurants from the HPA when it comes to handling something like a norovirus outbreak and it is only because of the status of the Fat Duck that we survived this," he said.

Heston Blumenthal criticises Health Protection Agency at Chef Conference >>

Contaminated shellfish caused food scare at Michelin-starred Fat Duck >>

The Fat Duck: Business as usual after recent food scare? >>

By Kerstin Kühn

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