A dollop of maple bacon condiment on the burger, not the cronut burger itself, was behind more than 200 cases of illness in Toronto last week, according to public health officials.
Hundreds of fair-goers reported getting sick after eating at the Canadian National Exhibition and the cronut burger – a cheeseburger with a hybrid croissant-doughnut bun – initially took the heat. But after an investigation, Toronto Public Health confirmed the jam atop the sandwich was contaminated with Staphylococcus aureus: the bacterial toxin that caused the outbreak.
Lisa Berger, an associate medical officer of health for Toronto Public Health, said it is not yet clear which ingredients may have been contaminated.
"We're looking into all elements of the different ingredients of the jam, how it was processed, how it was transported and how it was handled on site," Ms. Berger said. The jam is made of bacon, maple syrup, brown sugar and water and should be kept refrigerated.
"There were some temperature control issues both at the supplier and on site," Ms. Berger said, adding if a food item is contaminated and then not cooled properly, bacteria can multiply and produce the Staphylococcus aureus toxin.
The health authority said it has received 223 complaints from people who felt sick after eating at the CNE. Public health officials interviewed 154 of those people and found 79 cases of food poisoning, including one person who was hospitalized overnight. Symptoms of Staphylococcus aureus food poisoning include nausea, vomiting and abdominal cramping and can last for up to three days.
The jam and the cronuts were made by Le Dolci bakery in Toronto's west end.
Le Dolci owner Lisa Sanguedolce issued a statement to media on Tuesday saying the staff is concerned about the news that their jam was contaminated.
"We are a small team of family and employees who run the operation and we take food safety very seriously. It is of the utmost importance to us," the statement read.
"We have strict policies and procedures in place for all of our staff and suppliers to ensure we always output a high quality product."
Ms. Sanguedolce also said they have ceased all production to co-operate with the public health investigation.
EPIC Burgers and Waffles, the food vendor that served the cronut burger, re-opened on Tuesday with the novelty concoction removed from the menu. In a post on its Facebook page, EPIC Burgers and Waffles stated it will no longer use Le Dolci as a supplier.
"We would like to take the time to thank Toronto Public Health for their hard work in verifying that our products are safe and our remaining suppliers are of the highest quality," the statement read.
Before Tuesday's reopening, EPIC Burgers and Waffles employees were re-trained in proper food handling, and the vendor station was thoroughly sanitized, Ms. Berger said.