Toronto Public Health (TPH) says 34 people have reported getting sick from eating food at the CNE since the fair opened on Friday.
Dr. Lisa Berger says the source of the food-borne illnesses hasn’t been identified but the public health department is investigating.
All food at Epic Burgers & Waffles, the CNE food premise in question, has been disposed of and food samples are being tested at a public health lab, she said Wednesday.
The CNE voluntarily shuttered Epic Burgers, one of its most popular food vendors, as a precaution while TPH investigates the multiple cases of stomach illness. Gastrointestinal illness can produce nausea, vomiting, cramping and diarrhea, among other symptoms.
Paramedics assessed a dozen people complaining of gastrointestinal symptoms on Tuesday and sent five to hospital.
Officials wouldn’t confirm reports the patients had had the cronut burger before becoming ill, but on Tuesday evening, the Ex ordered Epic Burgers, the vendor that sells the item, to close while officials investigate.
“CNE has instructed the Epic Burger [sic] in the Food Building not to open until TPH’s inspection is complete,” said TPH spokeswoman Kris Scheuer.
The amusement park didn’t say how long the stall — which passed its last TPH inspection on Aug. 16 — would be closed.
“It depends on what the findings are,” Dr. Berger said, adding lab results would be available in 48-72 hours.
TPH is investigating illnesses at the CNE. We will continue to update you as we get more info throughout the day @LetsGoToTheEX
— Toronto PublicHealth (@TOPublicHealth) August 21, 2013
Visitor John Baquiran told CityNews the cronut burger — a beef patty and cheese on a doughnut-croissant bun which debuted at The Ex this year — was all he had eaten before having a violent reaction.
“Honestly, it was eating the cronut burger,” he said in an interview. “Two hours later, I felt very [nauseated] and started puking everywhere. [I had] diarrhea.”
Baquiran said paramedics treated him at the amusement park’s medical station, but when he started having chills, they took him to Mount Sinai Hospital, where he was given fluids and anti-nausea medication.
“I always want to try something everywhere, but I regret trying this one,” he said.
Another patron named Kevin Chiu said he was also at the CNE on Tuesday and starting feeling sick after eating the cronut burger, the donut burger, an ice cream sandwich and fried onions and drinking lemonade.
“I’m not sure what it was — It could be any one of them,” he said.
Chiu said he had vomiting and diarrhea for at least five hours and, though he usually eats food like that at the CNE, he has never been sick like this before.
Neither Baquiran nor Chiu had gone on any rides.
A third customer named Daniella Malaquias, who hadn’t had the cronut burger, said her stomach started “cramping like crazy” after eating a Philly cheesesteak sandwich and sharing a deep-fried Twix bar with her boyfriend.
The CNE said its own “expert team” is also conducting an investigation.
“The CNE is very concerned about this situation and the people who have been affected by it,” the park said in a statement.
“The CNE has stringent food safety regulations in place which are monitored daily.”
Below are tweets from people who got sick after eating the cronut burger.
Take back what I said about the cronut burger. Don’t do it. I puked 7 times last night.
— anupa mistry (@_anupa) August 21, 2013
Yup food poisoning…cronut burger lmao… I believe over 100+ ppl going to be sick
— Kuya Blacks (@Cc_rRafael) August 21, 2013