In many ways, McDonald’s is the model business empire. All-American food, speedy service and a perceived value for money all go some way to explaining why the giant corporation continues to pack in diners to its restaurants every day. Nothing seems to dent the popularity of the burger behemoth. Diets and fads may change, but the golden arches continue to stand tall. Even when under pressure from fierce criticism, Ronald and his gang seem to bounce back stronger than before.
Some things, however, you just can’t ignore. Such as the man from Jackson County, West Virginia who claimed he discovered a capsule in his hash brown in 2007, or the Missouri woman who said she found a “hard, circular” object in her beef patty in 2009. And that’s just for starters…
The following surprise ingredients in the famous McDonald’s menu may just make diners think twice — three times, or more. Apologies if you’re about to have your lunch; here are the 10 most revolting things discovered in McDonald’s menu items.
10. Band-Aid with Fries
In 2005, Lauren Coleman, a senior at the University of Illinois, got an unexpected side order with her fries at the Illini Union’s McDonald’s. Just as she was about to dig in, she spotted a used bandage sitting in her fries. Understandably shocked and disturbed, she took it up with the manager, who had the good grace to order Coleman some fresh food and give her her money back. The owner of the offending bandage then came out and apologized to the shell-shocked student, saying, “I’m sorry, that’s my Band-Aid.” Coleman, who chose to take no further action against McDonald’s, said: “The McDonald’s on campus is not classy or clean, but it’s the only one on campus… [I]t’s like taking a risk when ordering there.” Sounds like a sticky situation…
9. Needle Double Cheeseburger
In 2008, a different kind of foreign First Aid object showed up in a teenager’s double cheeseburger in Reading, Massachusetts. The unnamed 14-year-old girl was biting into her burger when she came upon a hollow piece of metal about an inch long. Health officials who examined the object said they believed it to be part of a veterinary needle or syringe that somehow found its way into the food chain at a meat packing plant in Ohio — possibly as a result of an animal being vaccinated prior to its slaughter. A statement from McDonald’s at the time read: “We take these matters seriously. However, at this time, these are allegations. Upon learning about these claims, we immediately began an investigation to gather the facts. Without the facts, it would be inappropriate to further comment or speculate on where this object may have come from.” However, McDonald’s stopped using that shipment of meat, while the uninjured girl was taken to the hospital as a precaution.
8. Nail Burger
McDonald’s is, of course, that most global of businesses — with restaurants everywhere from New Zealand to the North Pole. Perhaps, then, it almost goes without saying that unanticipated items will show up in their menus all over the world. Take this painful example from Hisingen, just outside Gothenburg in Sweden. Forty-seven-year-old Yusuf Bercil innocently bought a burger from McDonald’s, and on taking his first bite found himself with a nail almost half an inch long pierced through his gums. ”It was stuck between my teeth and gums,” he explained. “I managed to get it out but then I threw up. What if one of my children had got the burger instead?” Staff at the outlet had no explanation for how the nail got there. “We have started an investigation and informed our suppliers but can only apologize,” said the manager, Axel Gustafsson. Bercil, meanwhile, has been left with a fear of fast food following the 2010 incident. “We are going to make homemade burgers from now on,” he said.
7. Dead Rat Salad
Ordering a salad from McDonald’s is one of those noble acts of self-respect and self-denial that should make you feel better about yourself. However, this was far from the truth in 2006 when football coach Todd Haley — then an assistant coach with the Dallas Cowboys — took home a salad for his wife and their live-in babysitter. Upon unwrapping and half-eating their healthy option, the two women allegedly found a less than healthy extra ingredient among the salad leaves: a dead roof rat, six inches in length, the discovery of which left them deeply fearful of having contracted a disease. After a manager from the Texan McDonald’s drove out to investigate and — according to the family — “didn’t offer any comfort,” Haley filed a lawsuit against the burger chain for $1.7 million in damages. The case was settled before it went to trial for an undisclosed amount. That’s a defensive play Haley might not have been expecting.
6. Bugs “Unhappy” Meal
Sadly, not every meal can be a happy meal. That was certainly the case in 2010 when 18-year-old Hayley Parsons ordered the popular packaged item from a McDonald’s drive-thru in South London in the UK. While nibbling on a few of the fries in her car, she was more than a little dumbfounded to discover three or four bugs scuttling around in her food. Shocked and disgusted, Parsons initially flung the box up in the air, but kept one of the bugs as evidence to show staff. However, on visiting the McDonald’s in question, an environmental health officer found no infestation or risk to public health. The suspicion was that the bugs fell onto the food somewhere outside in the drive-thru area — although a McDonald’s spokesman did issue an apology after the “isolated incident.” Parsons, meanwhile, vowed to take no more chances: “I will never ever be eating McDonald’s again,” she said.
5. Big Xtra Burger with Chewed Gum
In 2007, in Vancouver, Canada, Max Ipinza got a scare when he bit into his Big Xtra burger and tasted not meat, but peppermint. Immediately realizing that there was chewing gum in what remained of his burger, he spit it out and, by now feeling very sick, went to the hospital to get checked out, worried about the risk of contracting hepatitis. He believes someone intentionally put the gum into his food. McDonald’s Canada said the company had begun an in-depth investigation into Ipinza’s complaint with the co-operation of health officials. Ipinza said he would henceforth be bringing his own packed lunches to work.
4. Condom with Fries
Another “unhappy meal” was served up in Fribourg, Switzerland, in 2009, when a seven-year-old girl found a condom nestled in her fries. The child’s upset mother called the police, who in this case launched an immediate investigation into how it got there. The rogue rubber was sent to a forensics lab to see whether or not it posed a health risk. At the time of the story, McDonald’s declined to comment. If they had, they probably would have avoided saying, “Do you want sauce with that?”
3. Chicken Legend with Wire Brush
In 2010, 18-year-old Brett Stephens somehow managed to escape injury when he found a sharp, five-inch-long wire brush embedded in the meat of his Chicken Legend sandwich, bought from a local McDonald’s in Kidderminster, England. The boy’s furious mother, Janet, claimed the fast food chain’s bosses simply laughed when she challenged them over the find, and that all she was offered was an exchange. A McDonald’s spokesperson said: “McDonald’s takes the safety and quality of its food very seriously indeed and we offer our unreserved apologies for this isolated incident.” Sounds as though Brett had a brush with danger…
2. Maggot Big Mac
In March 2011, Melbourne, Australia resident Leigh Savage opened up his Big Mac to check that the extra pickles he’d requested were inside. They were, but to his horror, there were also as many as 30 maggots crawling around the meat patties. McDonald’s wanted to examine the burger inside a laboratory to discern how the maggots ended up there. But Savage, who also reported the incident to police — who were unable to help — just wanted a refund and an apology. “It’s just disgusting, [I’m] never eating there again,” he said. Interestingly, this is another case in which the victim claimed McDonald’s staff merely laughed when first informed of the discovery. Savage, for one, was definitely not lovin’ it.
1. Chicken Head with Wings
Number one on our list is the most famous of these stray object horror stories. It’s a tale that garnered a lot of attention back in 2000 when it first appeared and was featured on television news programs. It has also been the subject of countless email correspondences. The story goes like this: Katherine Ortega, a Virginia mother of two, bought some chicken wings at a local McDonald’s. While serving the poultry up for her kids, she noticed that one of the pieces was slightly weird looking. On closer inspection, it turned out to be a fully-formed, perfectly intact chicken head, battered and fried, just waiting to be eaten. Some doubts were expressed about Ortega’s story, especially as she went to the TV station with her story before filing a complaint with McDonald’s. Also, in the last decade or so, the story has become something of a legend, with different “facts” orbiting around the fateful chicken head. Whatever the reality, at the time, Ortega told reporters: “I will probably cook at home from now on.” Whichever way you look at it, it’s just not one of the “things that make you go mmmm.”