Is Your Hamburger Safe?
Is Your Hamburger Safe?
  • 이미연
  • 승인 2018.03.07 12:51
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▲The victim’s mother is holding a press conference
▲The victim’s mother is holding a press conference

“I got hemolytic uremic syndrome after I ate a happy meal.” Last July 2017, the parents of a four-year-old accused McDonald’s for violating the Food Sanitation Act. Hemolytic uremic syndrome is a rare disease that occurs mostly in children and affects 5-15% of infected patients in 0157:H7 (Escherichia coli, E.coli). The E.coli releases toxins into the blood cells through the intestine, enters into the kidney, and causes acute kidney damage. In this way, it can affect the brain and the pancreas, and cause convulsions, coma, and diabetes. HUS is called the hamburger disease because it occurs collectively among people who eat uncooked patties in hamburgers in the United States in 1982.

The victims’ families claimed this situation was caused by eating a McDonald’s hamburger with undercooked patties, but McDonald’s denied the possibility, claiming that the errors could not occur during the mechanical process. However, other consumers gave information about undercooked patties and part-timers say there is a possibility of making a less-cooked patty. Prosecutors have been concentrating on finding the link between HUS and patty, but have had difficulties proving it as time passed by. Prosecutors, then investigate the production and distribution of vegetables and patties, and during the process, shocking facts were revealed. McDonald’s received a positive assessment for 1 million patties as a result of tests to check for E.coli contamination, however, it was found that they fabricated a document and distributed those patties. In addition, toxins were detected from enterococcus via PCR (polymerase chain reaction), but they delivered products without any additional inspections. Last month, after eating a McDonald’ hamburger, there was an outbreak of group enteritis. McDonald’s then stopped selling apples and bulgogi hamburger, but it resumed selling them again a week later. Prosecutors concluded through their investigation of McDonald’s officials and an informal investigation by Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, that there was no direct causal relationship between the burger and the disease. However, suspicions were confirmed they have delivered a patty-causing disease and the prosecution charged the persons concerned without detention on charges of violating the Livestock Products Sanitary Control Act.

According to data from the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, there have been nearly 401 cases of violating the Food Sanitation Act at major fast-food restaurants Lotteria and McDonald’s since 2013. However, according to the report about remuneration for the damages caused by fast food companies, there have only been a total of 59 cases of remuneration since 2012. Only 38.98% of the measures (compensation, refunds, and correction of misfeasance) which are actually helpful in relief were conducted, and 61.02% of the cases are nothing more than negative actions.

The young victim has peritoneal dialysis, 10 hours a day, with kidneys damaged nearly 90%. McDonald’s has refused the victim’s request for a CCTV examination and has not apologized for dishonesty. Like the Oxy humidifier scandal, which killed many children, the case is not being properly investigated any foreign firm. We need to introduce punitive damages to try to redress such wrongdoings by businesses.


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