Last week it was discovered that novelty cronut burgers were responsible for sickening 150 visitors at the Canadian National Exhibition, and now Toronto Public Health reveals the culpable ingredient: the maple bacon jam. In a written update on the investigation, health officials note that this jam was confirmed to be contaminated with the Staphylococcus aureus toxin and that there is no longer any risk to the public. Officials also updated the total of reports of gastrointestinal systems stemming from the cronut burgers to a whopping 223 (up from initial reports of nearly 100).
TPH is now investigating the Toronto bakery Le Dolci, which made the maple bacon jam and the knockoff cronuts for the cronut burgers. Le Dolci has reportedly "voluntarily ceased production" of the jam. Meanwhile, cronut burger vendor Epic Burger and Waffles will be free to reopen at the fair as soon as today, though noting on its Facebook page that it has removed the cronut burger from the menu (phew) and will stop working with Le Dolci.
For its part, Le Dolci announces via Facebook that it is " fully cooperating with Toronto Public Health." The bakery is also closed because of its Summer break until September 3. Le Dolci added that closing is not connected to the outbreak, writing, "our summer holiday was planned months ago."
Here's the statement from Toronto Public Health:
Toronto Public Health (TPH) has recently been investigating an outbreak of food-borne illness among individuals who visited the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE) in Toronto.
TPH's investigation included a thorough on-site inspection of Epic Burger and Waffles on August 21, including collection of food samples for testing and interviews of people who were ill to determine their symptoms and what they ate.
The laboratory test results from Friday, August 23 indicated that samples of the cronut burger were contaminated by Staphylococcus aureus toxin, which is a recognized cause of food borne illness. Additional lab results have now confirmed that the maple bacon jam topping on the burger contained this toxin and is the source of illnesses reported to TPH.
"New lab results indicate that the maple bacon jam, which is one component of the cronut burger, is the cause of food-borne illnesses at the CNE," said Dr. David McKeown, Toronto's Medical Officer of Health. "We have ensured the contaminated product is not served. There is no risk to the public."
TPH's investigation is focusing on the supplier of the bacon jam, Le Dolci, to determine how the contamination occurred. Le Dolci has voluntarily ceased production of this product. TPH will ensure that there will be no distribution of food products including the bacon jam from that establishment pending further investigation.
Epic Burger and Waffles will be allowed to reopen at the CNE today as long as they do not serve the maple bacon jam from this supplier and all food safety requirements are met.
"We would like to thank Toronto Public Health for their immediate and thorough response to this incident," said David Bednar, General Manager of the Canadian National Exhibition. "We will continue to work collaboratively with TPH and our food safety consultants to ensure the ongoing safety of our visitors."
As of 8 a.m. today, TPH has received 223 reports from CNE visitors who experienced gastrointestinal symptoms after consuming food at the CNE from August 16 to August 20. TPH has interviewed more than 150 people who reported ill, not all of whom reported eating a cronut burger. The only common food consumed by those who were ill is the cronut burger sold by Epic Burger and Waffles.
Symptoms of illness ranged from an upset stomach to more serious symptoms, including diarrhea, fever, vomiting, abdominal cramps and dehydration.
Since the opening weekend of the CNE, TPH has inspected more than 300 food premises. TPH will continue to actively monitor and work with vendors on food safety for the duration of the annual fair.
For more information about staphylococcus aureus please, see the TPH factsheet at http://www.toronto.ca/health/moh/pdf/food_safety_backgrounder.pdf.