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>McDonalds – Letter from a concerned citizen


As a child, going to McDonald’s was always a treat for me. Growing up, I always preferred eating at McDonald’s over all other fastfood restaurants, not just for the food but for the service as well. Now a businessman with a family of my own, I still frequent McDonald’s especially with my kids. Given all these, it is therefore hard for me to imagine that one day I would find myself writing a letter expressing my utter disappointment with McDonald’s and actually consider not eating there again. I wish to share with you my horrible experience so that you and your loved ones will be more careful when eating in restaurants (especially in fastfood establishments) where food safety and cleanliness, as I have learned, are apparently not always a guarantee.

On the morning of March 25, 2008, for breakfast, I bought an Egg Mcmuffin with coffee from the McDonald’s Boni MRT Station Branch. (I would later find out that the said branch was owned and operated by no less than the head office.) On my third bite, I was surprised to feel in my mouth something resisting to break free from my sandwich. I looked at the sandwich and was so disgusted to see a fibrous object – partly white and partly green in color – that I immediately expelled what I was chewing from my mouth. Upon closer inspection, I saw a foreign object which looked very much like the fibers of an old cleaning scrub normally used to wash dishes and kitchen utensils. See picture attached.

Deeply bothered by what I saw and the thought of what I might have ingested, I went to speak to the manager. I was determined to find out who was responsible for this negligence. After explaining to the manager what had happened, I showed her the sandwich and opened it. All she could say was “mukha ngang sponge.” I then asked her to show me all the cleaning materials used by the crew where the “scrap” in my sandwich could have come from. She quickly complied, but like a child trying to cover up a misdeed, she brought out a big plastic cleaning brush, which obviously had no fibrous part, and a brand new scrub. I therefore asked her to show me the old scrub which I am sure they had used earlier that morning. In a sudden turn around, she inexplicably now gave me the excuse that she could not show me any more materials because it was “against protocol.” This irritated me even more.

To compensate, she offered to bring me to the hospital for a check-up but insisted that I just leave the sandwich so that they could allegedly investigate the matter. I insisted instead that she make an incident report for their head office. She again denied my request and was, by then, frantically calling up their “area consultant” who, in less than an hour, arrived at the scene. I thought the area consultant would be more helpful. Unfortunately, she merely reiterated to me that it is “against company policy” to show me their cleaning materials and to write an incident report. All they could do, she said, was to receive our written complaint.

Out of frustration, I had my staff call the Mandaluyong City Hall to ask that a sanitation officer be sent to the store to conduct an investigation. Two sanitation officers arrived within the hour. They asked the store manager to present their Business Permit and Sanitary Permit. It was then discovered that the store had no Sanitary Permit and worse, 55 of their crew members did not have health certificates! In other words, an employee with an infectious disease may pass on the sickness to a poor consumer by contaminating the food and no one would ever know. See attached file.

I also called up my wife to tell her about my ordeal and she called up her brother, a practicing lawyer. My brother-in-law, who was in the vicinity at that time, immediately came to the store and reiterated my requests. He called up the head office and spoke to a customer service manager, who said that we should just file a complaint with the head office. As a last effort to document what had happened, we placed the sandwich in a heat-sealed plastic bag to preserve it and asked both the manager and area consultant to sign and attest to the fact that the sandwich was sealed properly. Even that they refused. Fortunately, one of the sanitation officers offered to sign as a witness.

I left the restaurant far from being a satisfied customer to say the least. I was dismayed at how poorly the McDonald’s employees handled the situation. They left me with no other choice but to file a formal complaint. In the meantime, I hope that this warning will help you and your loved ones avoid similar situations or worse, getting sick from the food they serve. McDonald’s, being a leading fastfood chain and enjoying the patronage of millions everyday, owes it to its customers to serve them clean food and ensure that mistakes like these, which could cause harm, do not happen.

Wilbert Mateo

Categories: Food
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