NOA Restaurant apologized by sending champagne

Noa peakokk Tõnis Siigur.

PHOTO: Eero Vabamägi

The puzzle of the breakout of salmonellosis in the NOA high-class restaurant is slowly unraveling. Meanwhile, the restaurant has been compensating the damage to clients.

But the source of infection and its path of spreading are still unclear. The only certain fact is that all the victims consumed boeuf tartar in the Viimsi-based restaurant on July 17.

The Veterinary and Food Board completed the lab analyzes  last Friday and it appeared that the two components of the food – beef and eggs – met all requirements.

How did the ground beef get contaminated?

Another peace of the puzzle has been found. Kai Raska, leading specialist of the Health Board epidemiological response bureau, told Postimees yesterday that one of the samples taken from ground beef in NOA Restaurant on July 19 tested positive for Salmonella enteritidis (the most frequent serotype of the salmonella bacteria – Ed.).

The ground beef had been prepared in the restaurant. This means that safe raw material supplied to the restaurant had been somehow contaminated during the preparation of food. Epidemiological investigation will show whether a staff member had been at fault or the bacteria had spread in some other way.

Representatives of the restaurant have already stated that although samples were immediately taken there as well as at the suppliers, most of the raw material could not be analyzed. “Neither we not the suppliers had any left since we order fresh products every day. It would be therefore incorrect and unfair to us to claim with absolute certainty that the raw material was uncontaminated,” they said last Friday.

The results of genotyping to be available sometime this week shall show the possible bacteriological link between the beef and the victims, Kai Raska said.

The restaurant has been meanwhile smoothing relations with the sick clients by sending them a compensation package. The package contained a 200-euro voucher valid in all restaurants of the group (NOA, OKO, Tuljak and Paju Villa). There was also a bottle of pink champagne from France worth approximately 60 euros.

Further contents included a food supplement elixir, some healthy fruit and vegetable snacks and a pack of freeze-dried blackberries. The packages, which also contained an apology of chef Tõnis Siigur, were delivered by courier.

The restaurant’s team is now dealing with e-mails requesting the compensation of damages. The clients primarily request the compensation of treatment and hospital costs and loss of income due to absence from work.

Tõnis Siigur, the chef and one of the owners of the restaurants, was unable to say how many clients wanted their costs compensated or how many had received it. He explained that the process is ongoing, and they cannot comment on individual cases.

Different compensations

As far as Postimees has learned, the compensations claimed reach from a couple of dozen to 1,000 euros. While the smaller amounts have been compensated according to presented bills, not all clients have yet received their compensation.

 “NOA has been communicating with the injured parties and most of them have been very understanding. We are very grateful to them for it,” Siigur said. He added that the wellbeing of the clients and the staff is of primary importance to the restaurant. “We apologize one more time and promise that we work every day to prevent such incident ever happening again.”

The salmonellosis outbreak which took place in the NOA Restaurant in mid-July was the largest in recent years and concerned a total of 33 people, 16 of whom had to be hospitalized. Five of the victims were members of the restaurant staff, the others were clients. The restaurant remained close for several days after the outbreak.