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100 patrons report gastrointestinal symptoms after eating at CNE: TPH

TORONTO – Epic Burgers & Waffles — a CNE vendor voluntarily shuttered following nearly 100 reports of food-borne illness — says 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.”

In its first statement since reports of food-borne illness came to light Wednesday, the company says 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 reads.

“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.”

The vendor — which sells the “Cronut” burger — says it will voluntarily remain closed as a precaution while health officials continue an investigation.

Public health officials say nearly 100 people have reported gastrointestinal symptoms after eating at the Ex.

Those who fell ill were at the CNE between Aug. 16 and Aug. 20, the department says.

Dr. Lisa Berger says one food premise is at the centre of the investigation but all possible sources are under investigation.

“Overall risk to the general public is low,” she said.

The department says food samples have been sent to the lab for testing. Results typically take 48 to 72 hours to complete.

It is waiting to confirm the source of illness.

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.

Mayor Rob Ford says he feels for patrons who fell ill.

“It’s terrible when people have diarrhea and are vomiting all night,” he said. “You get food poisoning — it is the worst — I’ve had it a couple of times and you just feel like you’re dying.”

However, Ford said he believes the issue has been resolved and encouraged people to go to the fair and “have fun.”

Health officials are asking anyone who suffered symptoms such as an upset stomach, diarrhea, fever, vomiting, stomach cramps and dehydration at the CNE to contact 311.

The CNE remains open until Sept. 2.