The Seoul Central District Prosecutors’ Office has decided on July 11 to probe a complaint filed by the family of the four-year-old girl who fell ill on July 5 alleging that McDonald’s Korea violated food safety laws.
The prosecution is soon to summon officials from the country’s biggest fast food chain to look into whether they violated food safety rules. An official from the prosecution said, “We must summon officials in order to accurately identify the cause of the incident.”
Previously, the parents of the girl filed a complaint against McDonald’s Korea with the Seoul Central District Prosecutors' Office, claiming their daughter contracted hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) after eating an undercooked patty. They said their daughter did not have a health problem before eating the burger and did not eat anything else on the day.
According to the family of the girl, she developed a stomachache two to three hours after she ate a burger from a McDonald's in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province in September last year. Her parents took her to a nearby hospital as her stomachache became worse and she started having bloody diarrhea. She was admitted to an intensive care unit and diagnosed with HUS three days later.
She was discharged from the hospital two months after, but has since been undergoing peritoneal dialysis, a treatment for kidney failure, for up to 10 hours on a daily basis because she lost 90 percent of her kidney function.
Her parents and her legal representatives claim the HUS was caused by eating undercooked ground meat contaminated with E. coli O157, a potentially deadly bacterium that can cause dehydration, bloody diarrhea and abdominal pains after infection, symptoms all experienced by the girl, citing existing cases in the United States. However, McDonald’s Korea denied any links between the product and the girl's illness, saying, “The hamburger patty was manufactured in a facility that received a government-issued credible food safety management certificate known as Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP). It doesn’t contain any intestines either.”
On the other hand, former and current employees from McDonald’s Korea said that the patty could be undercooked, unlike McDonald’s explanation for "hamburger disease," arousing controversy.