Celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal has been rapped by the Health Protection Agency (HPA) after he was found to have allowed staff to work while ill.

The news comes after his Fat Duck restaurant in Bray, Berkshire, was forced to close for three weeks last month when hundreds of customers fell ill.

And a report into the incident revealed that Blumenthal, who has made a name for himself by appearing on TV cookery shows, writing recipe books and making instructional DVDs, was partly at fault because staff were working while still displaying syptoms of the norovirus winter-vomiting bug.

The HPA said: "The investigation found weaknesses in how staff sickness was identified and dealt with.

"Based on staff interviews, sickness records and samples taken, it is clear staff worked while still infectious."

It was found that six staff were infected at the time in question, which caused 529 diners to contract the bug.

In a goodwill gesture afterwards, Blumenthal offered a free meal to every individual that suffered from the bug after eating in his restaurant.

21/03/2009 10:01:41