Toronto Public Health (TPH) says it was the maple bacon jam topping on the cronut burger that was the source of the food-borne illnesses at the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE).
The supplier, Le Dolci, has voluntarily ceased production of the jam and the cronut will no longer be sold, creator Epic Burgers & Waffles said in a statement Tuesday.
Epic Burgers & Waffles was voluntarily closed on Aug. 21 while public health officials investigated, but reopened on Tuesday.
“The public can eat safely at Epic Burger Waffle [sic] and the CNE,” Toronto public health’s Dr. Lisa Berger assured the public at a news conference Tuesday.
The jam was contaminated with Staphylococcus aureus toxin, but exactly when and where the contamination occurred is still under investigation.
Dr. Berger said temperature control issues were noted at both the supplier, and on site at the CNE, and Epic Burgers staff has received further training. The toxin cannot be killed through the cooking process, and proper refrigeration is necessary to avoid its spreading.
The jam was a special order for Epic Burgers and wasn’t sold anywhere else.
Le Dolci released a statement Tuesday, saying the company was fully cooperating with the investigation.
“We are a small team of family and employees who run the operation and we take food safety very seriously,” it said. “It is of the utmost importance to us. We have strict policies and procedures in place for all of our staff and suppliers to ensure we always output a high quality product.”
Toronto public health said 150 people were interviewed, and it confirmed illness from the jam in 79 people – six of whom were hospitalized, with one requiring an overnight stay.
A total of 223 people called TPH complaining of illness after eating at the CNE.
Dr. David McKeown, Toronto’s Medical Officer of Health, said in a release on Tuesday, “We have ensured the contaminated product is not served. There is no risk to the public.”
TPH said Epic Burgers could reopen but cannot sell the jam and it must comply with all other safety guidelines.
Most healthy people will recover from the toxin but it can be serious for young children and the elderly. For a fact sheet from the University of Guelph on the bacteria, as well as symptoms and causes, click here.
Read the full statement from Epic Burgers & Waffles below:
On Tuesday August 20th Epic Burgers and Waffles were alerted to a health scare at the CNE.
After some initial reports from our patrons falling ill we decided to do the only thing we felt appropriate and voluntarily close our doors to the public, while Toronto Public Health worked tirelessly to get to the bottom of what transpired.
The results of their work are in and they have found that the burgers made by Epic Burgers and Waffles were and continue to be safe and of a high standard.
Public Health has made it known to us that a Maple Bacon Jam made by one of our now former supply partners, is what they suspect was the cause of this problem. Public Health has informed us that they are continuing the investigation into this supplier.
The jam was used as a topping solely on one of our menu items, the Cronut burger.
As a result of this finding Epic Burgers and Waffles have decided to remove the Cronut Burger from our menu and we will no longer do business with the aforementioned supplier.