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Poor refrigeration behind CNE cronut burger illness

Epic Burgers & Fries remained closed on Aug. 22, 2013 after dozens of people became ill at the CNE. CITYNEWS.

Poor refrigeration of maple bacon jam led to an outbreak of Staphylococcus aureus toxin at the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) this summer, Toronto Public Health (TPH)  officials said Friday.

“Our investigation suggests that inadequate refrigeration of the maple bacon jam at multiple points before serving to the customer — both at the Le Dolci preparation site and Epic Burgers & Waffles —  would have allowed the bacteria to grow and produce the toxin that led to illness,” TPH spokeswoman Kris Scheuer said in an email.

It’s not known how the toxin got into the jam, Scheuer said, but the poor refrigeration allowed it to spread.

The jam was a topping on the cronut burger, created and sold by Epic Burgers & Waffles, which was shut down at the Ex for a week during the investigation.  But the vendor was allowed to reopen and has eliminated the cronut burger from its menu.

Le Dolci, the bakery that supplied the jam, has apologized and was allowed to reopen.

Bakery owner Lisa Sanguedolce issued a message on the bakery’s Facebook page Thursday, apologizing for the error and saying they were back in business.

“I’d like to express extreme regret and remorse that people became ill after consuming the maple bacon jam that was served at the Canadian National Exhibition,” Sanguedolce wrote.

“With the assistance of Toronto Public Health we quickly stopped production of the product, sanitized our premises and re-trained all of our staff. This product was a special order product created only for our customer at the CNE. The bacon jam will no longer be produced,” she said.

The bakery will also host an open house on Sept. 24.

Scheuer said there are several conditions for the bakery’s reopening:

  • interviewing and additional training of food handlers
  • supervised cleaning and sanitization
  • any future production of the maple bacon jam must include ingredients from approved sources and the production process must be modified to the satisfaction of Toronto Public Health

Last month, Toronto Public Health’s Dr. Lisa Berger said temperature control issues were noted at both the supplier, and on site at the CNE, and Epic Burgers staff received further training. The toxin cannot be killed through the cooking process, and proper refrigeration is necessary to avoid its spreading.

A total of 250 people called TPH complaining of illness after eating at the CNE. Of those, at least 90 people ate at Epic Burgers & Waffles and 87 of them ate the cronut burger.

Two other CNE food booths – Bourbon Street Grill and Bao 360 Shanghai Express – were closed due to “serious” food safety infractions and did not reopen.

Click here to read the full statement from Le Dolci.