‘Cronut’ burger’s maple bacon jam topping led to more than 79 cases of food poisoning
‘Cronut’ burgers were voluntarily pulled off the menu at the Canadian National Exhibit on Tuesday, after Toronto Public Health officials identified the maple bacon jam topping as the ingredient that led to more than 79 cases of foodborne illness.
Results of tests conducted by Toronto Public Health showed that the jam – a topping on the cheeseburger with a hybrid doughnut-croissant bun served up by Epic Burgers & Waffles – was contaminated by Staphylococcus aureus toxin, which is a recognized cause of food borne illness.
"We were able to clear the cheese, the meat patty, the lettuce and the bun and identify the jam," Dr. Lisa Berger of Toronto Public Health told The Canadian Press. "Now we are looking at the individual components of the jam, there are separate food samples being sent to the public health lab and we are awaiting those results."
She added that the likely cause of the contamination of the jam was poor refrigeration.
“There were temperature control issues both at the supplier and on site,” Berger said. “Refrigeration prevents the bacteria from multiplying.”
The maple bacon jam used on the cronut burger was made using bacon, maple syrup, water and brown sugar. Health officials said Le Dolci, the Toronto-based supplier of the jam, has voluntarily stopped production of the topping.
"We have ensured the contaminated product is not served. There is no risk to the public," Dr. David McKeown, Toronto's Medical Officer of Health, said in a news release on Tuesday.
Following the TPH’s announcement, La Dolci on Tuesday released a statement, saying they are “fully cooperating” with health officials to assist them in their investigation.
“We are a small team … who run the operation and we take food safety very seriously. It is of utmost importance to us,” the statement reads. “We have strict policies and procedures in place for all our staff and suppliers to ensure we always output a high quality product.”
On Tuesday, Epic Burgers & Waffles reopened at the CNE but the vendor’s menu no longer included the cronut burger.
"The cronut inspired pastry burger has been put on hiatus for the remainder of the CNE 2013 season," said Christian Reilly, a spokesperson for Epic Burgers and Waffles. He said their booth at the CNE was hectic on Tuesday. "It is very exciting actually, now that we are back open we have loyal customers and fans lining up," said Reilly.
The TPH announced earlier that Epic Burgers & Waffles would be allowed to reopen on the condition it doesn’t use the jam in question and meets all other food safety requirements.
In a statement released on Tuesday morning, Epic Burgers said it was severing ties with Le Dolci, supplier of the contaminated jam, and removing the contentious burger from its menu.
“The jam was used as a topping solely on one of our menu items, the Cronut burger,” the company said in a statement on Facebook. “(We) have decided to remove the Cronut Burger from our menu and we will no longer do business with the aforementioned supplier.”
News of possible food-borne illnesses spread on Aug. 21, the day after paramedics treated 12 CNE-goers for symptoms of gastrointestinal illness.
Five were taken to hospital for further treatment. As of Tuesday morning, the agency says it has received 223 reports of people falling ill after eating at the CNE between Aug. 16 and 20.
Officials have not interviewed all those people but said that of the confirmed cases, the only common food eaten by those who fell ill was the cronut burger.
Epic Burgers & Waffles said they have not determined at what point the contamination of the jam started.
Symptoms of illness ranged from upset stomach to diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal cramps.
Since the CNE’s opening weekend, the TPH has inspected over 300 food vendors. Health officials said they will continue to monitor food premises and work with them on food safety for the remainder of the annual fair.
With files from The Canadian Press