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Food FYI: Norovirus hits Noma; 63 sickened [updated]

March 08, 2013|By Betty Hallock
  • Guests at Noma restaurant in Copenhagen became sick from norovirus last month, Danish authories say.
Guests at Noma restaurant in Copenhagen became sick from norovirus last… (Dresling Jens / Associated…)

Reports from Bloomberg and the Financial Times say dozens of people became sick after eating last month at Noma in Copenhagen, known for its modern Nordic cuisine and often referred to as "the best restaurant in the world."

Danish food inspectors said 63 diners who ate there from Feb. 12 to 16 were ill with vomiting and diarrhea and a kitchen employee also was sickened. 

[Correction, March 9: An earlier version of this post cited a report stating 63 of a total 78 diners were affected; there were a total of 435 guests.]

The inspectors cited poor hand hygiene and one of the kitchen sinks' lack of hot running water, according to a story in the Financial Times. The officials said Noma didn't respond quickly enough to emails from the kitchen worker and guests who said they were ill.

[Update: Noma director Peter Kreiner said in an emailed statement that the appropriate managers did not receive the kitchen worker's email because it originally was opened by a non-Danish-speaking employee at the restaurant.]

Bjorn Wirlander, head of control at the Danish food authority, told the Financial Times that people were affected by "a cocktail of different noroviruses" that unwittingly was brought in by an employee in the kitchen, where food was contaminated.

Bloomberg, citing the safety inspectors' report, said that the restaurant -- whose 20-course tasting menu costs 1,500 kroner ($261) -- was taking measures to correct any issues.

Meanwhile, the Danish Food Administration authorities have downgraded Noma's “smiley rating” -- its food safety inspection ratings -- from a broad smiley to a smaller smiley.

The incident is unlikely to affect demand for the world's toughest reservation. Noma's fully booked through June (the reservations calendar opens again on April 6 for reservations in July, August and September).

[Update: Noma's Kreiner said he reached out to the affected diners and offered either a refund or to return to Noma for dinner. "A number of guests have already accepted the offer to return to Noma."]

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