Noma Claims Reporting on Norovirus Outbreak Is Filled with Inaccuracies
After a stomach virus hit one of the world’s top restaurants, news outlets were quick to get it wrong
Noma, the Copenhagen restaurant that’s consistently been ranked one of the world’s best, was met with a PR nightmare during the past several weeks, as 63 guests came down with a case of norovirus, a particularly nasty stomach bug, after dining at the restaurant. Chef René Redzepi has been in full-on damage control mode, going so far as to issue a statement on the restaurant’s website, but we’ve noticed that several news outlets, especially NPR, were so quick to jump on the restaurant’s back that they neglected to do some basic fact-checking.
NPR's brief article, in fact, managed to cram in five factual errors into its seven paragraphs, which were debunked in the restaurant's statement.
The article claims that during the week in question, Feb. 12-16, "78 people ate at the small restaurant." In fact, "435 guests visited the restaurant at that time," according to Noma’s statement. The article also claims that 67 diners were sickened, when according to Noma it was only 63.
"The Danish food agency found there was no hot water tap to let employees wash their hands properly," claimed NPR. But according to Redzepi, this is just flat-out wrong. Not only does Noma have two sinks in each of its two kitchens, according to the statement, they all had very hot water except for one, which had only lukewarm water. The problem was reportedly fixed immediately. Additionally, TIME pointed out that very hot water plays no role in eradicating the virus.
The two other inaccuracies in NPR's piece are less inflammatory but still indicative of shoddy fact-checking. It reports that the restaurant only seats 12 when in fact there are over 40 seats in the main dining room, and failed to update an old article quote that lists Redzepi’s age as 32; he’s in fact now 35.
UPDATE: An NPR representative wanted us to make clear that most of writer Bill Chappell's information was taken from a government inspection report which was in fact inaccurate, and doesn't reflect errors in NPR's reporting.