Bacteria in CNE’s Cronut burger likely caused illness in 150: officials

WATCH: 150 people reported sick after bacteria infects Cronuts. Peter Kim reports. 

TORONTO – Toronto Public Health believe that bacteria in the Cronut burger was the cause of an outbreak that caused more than 150 people to become sick after eating food at the Canadian National Exhibition (CNE).

Health officials said Friday that the Cronut burger was the only common factor in all 150 cases.

Toronto Public Health said Staphylococcus aureus was the bacteria that was present in food samples collected from those who fell ill. When the bacteria reaches the intestines, they produce toxins – which is what causes victims to get sick, according to the Public Health Agency of Canada.

Staphylococcus aureus can lead to skin infections, pneumonia or food poisoning, the National Institute of Health’s website says.

“Infection can cause quite severe vomiting, diarrhea. In someone that is not in good health, a very elderly, frail person, it could be more serious than that,” said Toronto’s chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David McKeown, adding that infection is rarely fatal.

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More people could still come forward, McKeown said, noting that that some people are reluctant to report their sickness.

The update comes after 100 people reported falling sick after eating food at the CNE between August 16 and 20.

Watch: Toronto Public Health provide update on cause of CNE illness outbreak

Epic Burger & Waffles, the company that serves the Cronut, released a statement on Thursday touting their “clean bill of health” and issue-free past, but voluntarily closed their facility in cooperation with the health investigation.

“We take health and safety very seriously. It’s very important to us that our food is not only enjoyed, but also trusted. Our customers, our staff and our families eat here daily,” said the statement.

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McKeown said the restaurant will remain closed until the investigation is done.

The investigation still needs to determine exactly where or when the food became contaminated. Typically the bacteria multiplies under inadequate temperatures or food handling, McKeown said.

“We have to let this investigation go full cycle. We’ve stopped this now, we’re confident that it’s over,” David Bednar, General Manager of the CNE said. “However going on into the future, whatever different precautions may be necessary, we’re going to take them.”

Bednar said the negative press generated by the infection has not kept people from going to the Exhibition, saying attendance thus far has been “great.”

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