Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Cronut burger stand shut as CNE probes illnesses

Toronto Public Health is investigating after five Canadian National Exhibition visitors were taken to the hospital with food poisoning Tuesday.

And public health officials tell the Toronto Sun that the CNE has ordered Epic Burgers and Waffles — the maker of the headline-grabbing cronut burger — not to open Wednesday until a health inspection has been done.

Paramedics ended up treating 12 people in total for symptoms that were all typical of gastrointestinal illness that night. While speculation is running rampant on social media on what particular food item made the people so sick, public health has yet to determine what caused the illness outbreak.

Public Health spokesman Kris Scheuer confirmed the CNE shut down Epic Burgers and Waffles Tuesday night.

“Toronto Public Health is doing its own food safety investigation,” Scheuer told the Sun Wednesday morning.

The eating establishment, which operates in the Ex’s food building, could not be immediately reached for comment.

Public health’s DineSafe website says the stand was inspected Aug. 16 and received a pass.

“No infractions were observed under the Food Premises Regulation during an inspection,” the website states.

Toronto EMS spokesman Kim McKinnon said paramedics who were stationed at the CNE grounds ended up treating a dozen people just after 4 p.m. on Tuesday — around five of those were transferred to local hospitals.

McKinnon said that the symptoms were all typical of gastrointestinal illness including dizziness, vomiting and cramps.

As for the cause of the illness, EMS officials wouldn’t say if there was a particular food that sparked the food poisoning outbreak.

“But we still encourage people to come down to the Ex and enjoy it,” McKinnon said. “Come prepared and ready to enjoy the day because it is going to be hot and they need to be hydrated and all those sorts of things.” Public health inspected 200 food establishments on opening weekend at the CNE.

From those, 17 were given conditional passes and one got a ticket.

“We continue to do follow-ups with all food premises throughout the run of the CNE,” the spokesman said.

The CNE issued a statement just before lunch on Wednesday.

“The Canadian National Exhibition, in conjunction with Toronto Public Health, took immediate action to determine what caused patrons to fall ill at the fair last evening,” read a statement posted on the CNE’s website. “An expert team is onsite at the CNE investigating the situation. The CNE remains open.”

The statement stressed the CNE is “very concerned about this situation and the people who have been affected by it."

“The CNE has stringent food safety regulations in place which are monitored daily,” the organization stated.

Anyone who felt ill after visiting the CNE Tuesday is asked to call the city’s 311 service or to call the CNE directly at 416-598-7285.

A spokesman for Mount Sinai Hospital confirmed some patients with gastrointestinal symptoms were taken there from the Ex.

“Several patients told us that they ate the cronut burger among other things at the CNE but we don’t know the cause of their illnesses,” Mount Sinai spokesman Leslie O’Leary said.

“You’ll have to speak with Toronto Public Health (about the cause), who I understand are currently investigating.
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