Epic Burgers issues statement amid probe into CNE-linked illness
Toronto public health officials are continuing their investigation after receiving reports of nearly 100 cases of possible food-poisoning among patrons of this year’s Canadian National Exhibition.
Officials announced Thursday they'd received dozens of additional reports of possible illness linked to the CNE – up from 34 on Wednesday and about a dozen Tuesday.
"As of 9 p.m. yesterday, Toronto Public Health had received close to 100 reports from individuals who experienced gastrointestinal symptoms after consuming food at the CNE from August 16 to 20," the agency said in a statement.
News of the possible food-borne illness spread after paramedics treated at least 12 CNE-goers on Tuesday for symptoms of gastrointestinal illness. Five of them were taken to hospital for further treatment.
While the cause of the illness isn’t yet known, officials are focusing their investigation on the Epic Burgers & Waffles concession stand, which was selling "cronut" burgers that feature beef patty topped with cheese on a bun made with a croissant-doughnut mix.
"Based on information to date, Toronto Public Health has concentrated our investigation around one food premise located at the CNE, however, all possible sources of illness are being investigated," Associate Medical Officer of Health Dr. Lisa Berger said in the statement. "Overall risk to the general public is low."
Epic Burger & Waffles remained closed Thursday, after voluntarily shutting down so health officials could conduct their probe. According to records, the vendor was inspected on Aug. 16 and received a pass.
In a statement posted on their Facebook page Thursday afternoon, the proprietors said they have operated under a “clean bill of health” at the CNE. All staff members have been fully trained in food safety, the statement added.
“We buy our products from only the top suppliers and we’ve never had any issues in the past, nor do we wish to have any in the future.”
Epic Burgers confirmed they would remain closed as they await the lab results and further information from Toronto Public Health.
“We thank our loyal customers, friends and family for all of their support. We are a small business that aims to bring happy times, innovative and delicious food creations to all visitors of the CNE.”
Other food vendors told CTV Toronto that they feel for the owner of Epic Burgers & Waffles.
"He is an awesome guy, I’ve known him for years,” said vendor operator Chris Kritikos. “Very reputable and (he) runs an amazing show here.”
But news of the possible food poisoning didn't stop patrons at the Ex from sampling some of the fair's foods on Thursday.
"I'm not worried about whatever the food issue was. I'm sure it's going to get resolved," one female patron said.
Officials conducted a three-hour investigation of Epic’s food stand on Wednesday, following the reports of vomiting, diarrhea and stomach cramps.
Food samples have been sent to the lab for testing and should be available in the next 48 to 72 hours, the agency said.
The public health agency said it offered training to the fair's 1,600 food handlers and conducted an inspection before the CNE opened. It plans to conduct another inspection before the Ex closes.
Speaking with reporters Thursday, Mayor Rob Ford expressed concern for those who fell ill, saying food poisoning is “the worst.”
Ford said he hoped the issue is being resolved.
“I encourage people to go to the Ex and have some fun,” he said.
CNE general manager David Bednar said organizers continue to be “very concerned” about all visitors to the park.
“We…will do whatever’s necessary to prevent this in the future,” he said.
With a report by CTV Toronto's Ashley Rowe