Sun, September 24, 2017 | 17:37
Posted : 2017-09-03 16:42
Updated : 2017-09-04 11:11

Authorities look into McDonald's bulgogi burger

By Kim Bo-eun

Health authorities are inspecting McDonald's bulgogi burgers, which are alleged to have caused stomach flu in multiple elementary school students in Jeonju, North Jeolla Province.

On Saturday, the global fast-food chain's Korean unit suspended sales of the locally-inspired burger nationwide.

McDonald's move came after seven elementary school students and a teacher showed symptoms of enteritis including stomachache, diarrhea and fever, after eating the burger at a McDonald's store in the southwestern city of Jeonju Aug 25. One of the students was reportedly hospitalized. They submitted a complaint to McDonald's Aug. 28.

"We deeply regret that the customers who visited the restaurant in Jeonju experienced any illness and wish the customers a quick recovery," McDonald's Korea said in a statement. "The company is cooperating with the government authorities' investigation to identify the cause of the illness _ the suspension of sales is a precautionary measure prior to uncovering the exact cause of the disease."

The Jeonju health center has taken samples of the ingredients of the bulgogi burger from the troubled outlet. Results of testing could be announced Wednesday, at the earliest.

The Ministry of Food and Drug Safety has also conducted a separate hygiene inspection of the outlet's kitchen. The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention notified the public Saturday to report cases of similar symptoms after eating food at the Jeonju outlet.

The incident occurred only months after McDonald's was sued on charges of violating food safety regulations by the family of a four-year-old girl based in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, who allegedly developed hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS), after eating an undercooked bulgogi patty.

The disease is known to damage the kidneys. The girl is reported to have lost 90 percent of her kidney function.

Several suits followed, and currently five children are alleged to have developed HUS from McDonald's burgers.

In early July, the Korea Consumer Agency conducted testing of 38 types of burgers at six fast-food franchises and three convenience store chains. It did not detect E. coli _ which causes the illness _ in any of the burgers, but detected food poisoning bacteria 3.4 times the legal standard in the McDonald's bulgogi burger.

At the time, McDonald's attempted to prevent the agency from releasing the results, claiming that the agency did not follow required standards. It filed an injunction with a court against the agency disclosing the results, but this was dismissed.

McDonald's said the inspector carried the sample in a paper bag without immediately putting it in an airtight container.

The burger scare comes after concern mounted over pesticide-tainted eggs, posing even greater concern over food safety among the public.

관련 한글 기사

보건당국 "맥도날드 장염 증상자 신고해달라"

역학조사 결과 이르면 수요일 발표…식약처도 위생환경 점검중

질병관리본부는 맥도날드 햄버거를 먹고 초등학생들이 집단 식중독 증세를 보인 것과 관련 '지난 8월 26일 전주지역 맥도날드 매장에서 음식을 먹고 설사 등의 증세를 보인 사람은 전주시보건소로 신고해달라'고 3일 당부했다.

질병관리본부와 전주시보건소는 지난달 26일 초등학생 7명과 교사 1명 등 8명이 전주에 있는 한 맥도날드 매장에서 햄버거를 사 먹은 후 장염에 걸렸다는 신고를 받고 역학조사를 실시 중이다.

보건소는 같은 날 같은 매장에서 음식을 먹고 식중독 증상을 보인 사람이 확인되면 역학조사 범위를 넓히기로 했다.

초등학생들은 불고기버거를 먹은 후 장염 증세를 보였으며, 맥도날드는 지난 2일부터 전국 모든 매장에서 불고기 버거 판매를 중단했다.

보건소는 전날 증상자들을 접촉하고 해당 매장에서 불고기버거 등을 수거해 식중독과 햄버거 사이의 인과관계를 조사하고 있다. 조사 결과는 이르면 수요일쯤 나온다.

식품의약품안전처도 원인 규명을 위해 매장 조리실 등의 위생환경을 점검했으며, 조사 결과에 따라 행정 조치를 결정하겠다는 방침이다.(연합)