Food safety worries at Jamie Oliver restaurants

A number of the celebrity chef Jamie Oliver’s Italian restaurants have been criticised by food hygiene officials after suspected cases of food poisoning were reported by diners.

The chain, which contains seventeen restaurants, was inspected by food safety officers after two diners at Oliver’s Reading restaurant allegedly fell ill with the norovirus after eating a shellfish-based dish.

Inspectors carried out spot-checks of eleven restaurants in the chain between November 2009 and November 2010, and they apparently uncovered a number of problems. The Daily Mail reported that some of the restaurants had unsanitary equipment, out-of-date meat was served in staff meals, some food was undercooked and ingredients for dishes were occasionally stored on the floor. At the Cambridge restaurant in particular, washing-up facilities were said to be ‘heavily contaminated with grease’.

In defence of the allegations, a spokesperson for Jamie Oliver stated:

“All of the Jamie’s Italian restaurants have received top health safety ratings since opening and any problems identified by inspectors have been addressed and corrected immediately. We have never received an improvement notice from environmental health inspectors, only ever recommendations.”

Even if the problems at Jamie Oliver’s restaurants turn out to be minor, the concerns may still prompt management to send staff to undertake further food hygiene training.