Toronto paramedics assessed 12 people with gastrointestinal symptoms Tuesday evening, five of whom were taken to hospital for treatment. Now, Toronto Public Health says a total of 34 CNE visitors have come forward complaining about getting sick after eating something at the annual fair.
"We have 34 unique persons who have reported symptoms of food-borne illness,” Toronto Public Health’s Dr. Lisa Berger told reporters on Wednesday. “We are in the process of interviewing those people to determine what they have eaten, and other factors."
Toronto Public Health is currently looking for anyone else who may have suffered the symptoms of food-borne illnesses after visiting the CNE between Aug. 16 and 20.
The investigation into the spate of sudden illnesses ramped up on Wednesday as speculation swirled about the cause of the sickness. The vendor Epic Burgers and Waffles, which sells the much-buzzed-about cronut burger, voluntarily closed during the investigation, with health officials suggesting they had concentrated their investigation on that specific location.
Berger announced that samples had been seized and were being tested, and the rest of the location’s supply of food had been disposed of. She noted that the threat to public is currently low.
"We encourage people to continue to attend the CNE, to enjoy the CNE," she said.
CNE general manager David Bednar said Epic Burgers and Waffles was a reputable operator who has cooperated fully with the investigation. He said they take the health and safety of CNE guests very seriously.
"The Exhibition is not some place to come to get sick. Unless of course we make you sick by putting you on a ride. But that is different," Bednar told reporters.
[ Related: Steer clear of fake CNE tickets sold on street, police say ]
To those of you who haven't heard of the cronut burger: First, congratulations. You are going to live long, healthy lives. Second, what is the matter with you?
First, you take croissant doughnuts (which are all the rage in New York these days) and slam the contents of a cheeseburger between them.
That gives you two glazed croissants, a beef patty, processed cheese, maple jam, yada yada yada.
Many on Twitter have fingered the novelty nosh for the illnesses.
— Syl & Sam of L&B (@lipgloss_black) August 21, 2013
Another person says his wife, but not him, was sick after Cronut burger, seafood chowder fries, ice cream waffle and a smoothie at the CNE
— Trevor Dunn (@trevorjdunn) August 21, 2013
NYC's cronut has lineups at the bakery, Toronto's cronut burger has lineups at the ER. … That got real dark real fast — Claire Kerr (@snotforprofit) August 21, 2013
Toronto's CNE has become well known for its eclectic menu options, which tend to look more like dares than meals, when taken out of the context of the fair.
Doughnut hamburgers have become commonplace, as have deep fried cola and chili fries.
Other options this year include Éclair hot dogs, deep fried Oreos and sweet potato fries with Nutella topping.
So perhaps it is unfair to blame the cronut burger. The "binge factor" might play a role in the sudden spate of illnesses.
The cronut itself – the version without a hamburger mashed inside – appeared on the New York food scene earlier this year as the celebrated creation of chef Dominique Ansel, who has been litigious regarding the use of the "cronut" moniker.
Said a press release from CNE cronut burger provider Le Dolci earlier this month: "The cronut craze is sure to hit the next level with the sinfully delicious Cronut Burger!"
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