World's best restaurant Noma in Norovirus outbreak

14th of March 2013
World's best restaurant Noma in Norovirus outbreak

Highly rated Danish restaurant Noma, which has been named the world's best restaurant for three years running, won't be winning hygiene awards anytime soon. That's after 63 diners who ate there over the same few days in February fell ill with various strains of Norovirus.

The Copenhagen eaterie says it served some 435 guests in its 12-seat dining room during the period in question. Fødevarestyrelsen, Denmark's food agency, believes members of the restaurant's staff were responsible for spreading the illness to some seven per cent of customers. A failure to disinfect the kitchen quickly enough caused the virus to spread, authorities allege.

"The inspection visit was due to guests complaining of vomiting and diarrhoea," Fødevarestyrelsen wrote in its February 20 report, which noted that Noma failed to react in time to emails from dinner guests and the illness of a kitchen worker.

Known for popularising 'new Nordic' cuisine and its strict adherence to local ingredients, Noma has dreamt up everything from powdered cucumber to poached sea urchin and fermented grasshoppers. Fødevarestyrelsen found that there was no hot water tap for employees to properly clean their hands.

Noma co-owner Rene Redzepi countered that just one of the restaurant's four sinks spread across two kitchens was functioning improperly at the time of inspection, but said he sincerely regretted what happened to guests over the five days in February.

"Since receiving the news, we have been working closely with the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration to find the source of the problem," Redzepi stated over the weekend. "As a result of our collaborations, we have determined the most likely cause of the illness was norovirus, which may have been brought in by a member of staff who was symptom-free.

"As a precaution, the kitchen and restaurant have been deep cleaned several times following health inspection guidelines. This has been done on top of the overall cleaning, which takes place several times a day."


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