Just because a restaurant is expensive or highly rated doesn’t mean it’s immune to food safety and hygiene breaches as incident with popular Danish restaurant, Noma recently proved.
The best restaurant in the world for 3 successive years was the source of a foodborne outbreak resulting in 63 diners falling ill with Norovirus after eating at the swanky restaurant.
The outbreak was caused by an employee that was carrying the Norovirus but did not display any physical signs or symptoms of being ill while at work. The worker apparently washed his hands but the washing facilities only provided luke warm water which meant that the bacteria were not killed. The worker’s hands then spread the bacteria through cross-contamination of other foods.
Incidents such as these are just freak incidents that can happen so easily which is why food safety training for staff is of utmost importance. Not only training staff by enforcing good food handling and hygiene is also vitally important to avoid incidents such as this one which could cost this restaurant their reputation, customers and ultimately may bankrupt a business.
Read what a post on Foodsafetynews.com.au had to say about the incident:
Internal policies and procedures then didn’t stand up to the test. When 2 emails were received about the incident, these were passed around due to language barriers and not actioned until 4 days after the outbreak began. The employee with the virus also emailed the company but this also appears to have been missed.
On the plus side, when the problem was realised, Noma swung into action. The Health Department was contacted immediately and the kitchen was cleaned, sanitised and all affected food was disposed of. This procedure was repeated 4 times within a 48 hour period.
Noma have been very open about the incident – releasing copies of the inspection report on their website (http://noma.dk/news/) and offering diners either a full refund or the offer of a return visit. Despite the incident, most have opted for a return visit – unsurprising considering that the waiting list is months long and he restaurant cannot meet the demand for reservations!
So why is Noma so special? A 12-course meal there is said to cost upwards of $250 for 12 dishes (excluding drinks), most of which are intricately prepared and assembled by hand. Menu items that have featured in the past are said to include moss, snails, live shrimp and unripe plums. With two Michelin stars, and a three time ‘Best Restaurant in the World’ award, Noma really can be considered a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The post on Foodsafetynews.com.au goes on to provide advice for businesses on how to avoid a similar situation happening at your restaurant.
The first warning given to restaurants is that every staff member working in the restaurant, involved with food serving or preparation are trained on food safety. This is a legal requirement under Australian law but it is also important that the skills learned are practically applied to keep customers safe.
It is also important that restaurant owners implement food safety plans and ensure staff follow and maintain these plans at all times. Ensuring staff’s personal hygiene is maintained is another vital requirement. Look out for food or raw materials that look, smell or taste bad.