Heston Blumenthal's Fat Duck shut over food poisoning scare
Friday 27 February 2009
"He is often described as a 'culinary alchemist' and tonight the owner of the Michelin starred Fat Duck restaurant was desperately seeking a panacea after a food poisoning scare closed his dining room.
Heston Blumenthal has shut the award-winning eatery - described in 2005 as the 'the best place to eat on earth' - after up to 40 diners called in to say they were feeling unwell."
The first idea that came to my head was that it must be the work of the Norovirus which normally hits luxury cruise ships such as the QE II in 2007.
Unlikely though as the environment was different.
The time lag of symptom emergence points to some clever bacteria, perhaps the ones equipped with quorum sensing powers. Salmonella and E. Coli all carry such power. E. Coli would have been detected by now and the symptoms a good deal more serious.
Ducks in Teochiu, China © 2008 Am Ang Zhang
Duck is famous for harbouringSalmonella typhimurium which of course is hitting the headlines in the USA for peanut butter contamination. I doubt if Heston Blumenthal would be using any contaminated peanut butter in his “alchemy”.
“In 2004 - the same year it was awarded a third Michelin star - food and safety officers found 'borderline' levels of listeria in the foie gras and expressed concern that 'no core temperatures of the meat are taken'. The problems were swiftly dealt with, however, and Blumenthal has since introduced stringent procedures.” The Telegraph.
Listeria can be a problem and as so many customers were involved, they must all have had some foie gras! Chef’s compliments perhaps!
Or was it the cheese table? Many cheeses harbour listeria.
Blumenthal also suspected that as some of his staff had returned from Venezuela they might have picked up some bug and he is waiting for tests on them. Some of us can be symptomless carriers of germs or even protozoa such as Giardia lamblia. Good luck with the tests.
Then there is Ciguatera poisoning, from exotic tropical fish but as the symptoms did not seem to include rash it is unlikely.
Of course one cannot rule out sabotage. Being at the top, you are likely to upset someone some time.
The race is on to find the culprit.
Good luck Fat Duck.