TORONTO – Public health officials believe the Cronut Burger — a headlining fair food at the Ex — was responsible for up to 150 illnesses at the CNE.
Tests done on food samples taken from Epic Burgers & Waffles — which is known for the Cronut Burger, an all-beef patty sandwiched in between the infamous croissant and doughnut hybrid with cheddar cheese — tested positive for Staphylococcus aureus, a bacteria known to cause gastrointestinal illness, Dr. David McKeown said Friday.
An investigation is underway to determine how the contamination occurred.
According to Toronto Public Health, the bacteria produces a toxin which can cause nausea, vomiting and diarrhea in two to four hours.
McKeown said the majority of healthy people will recover but it can be serious for young children and the elderly.
McKeown says the department has now heard from more than 150 people reporting possible food poisoning after eating at the fair between Aug. 16 and 20. Public health officials have spoken to more than 100 of those people.
“Based on information from the ill individuals the only common food exposure that they had was the Cronut Burger served by Epic Burgers,” he said.
“There were no indications from that investigation of any other CNE food associated with this outbreak,” he said, adding that they are still trying to determine which component of the burger is responsible.
CNE general manager David Bednar said the fair is confident that the outbreak is over.
Epic Burgers & Waffles voluntarily shuttered following reports of food-borne illness.
In a statement Thursday, it said during its operation at the Ex it has had a “clean bill of health and all our staff have been fully trained in food safety.”
The company said it takes health and safety “very seriously.”
“We buy our products from only the top suppliers and we’ve never had any issues in the past, nor do we wish to have any in the future,” the statement read.
“It’s very important to us that our food is not only enjoyed, but also trusted. Our customers, our staff and our families eat here daily.”
On Tuesday, paramedics treated 12 patrons who had symptoms of gastrointestinal illnesses — five of those people were taken to hospital.
The number of reported cases rose to 34 on Wednesday. By Wednesday night, that number rose to nearly 100.
In a statement, the city said that over 1,600 food handlers received training before the CNE opened and TPH inspected more than 300 vendors.
The CNE remains open until Sept. 2.