McDonald’s Japan has apologized to customers and vowed to ensure product safety after objects, including a tooth and plastic, were found in its food, the latest trouble for a fast-food chain hit by sliding sales and a shortage of french fries.
The chain, 49.9 percent-owned by McDonald’s Corp, has been grappling with falling sales that began long before a food safety scandal last summer hit confidence in its products. Convenience stores in particular have drawn away customers with broader ranges of ready-made meals and low-priced coffee.
Reuters reported that Wednesday’s apology came after a diner found a roughly 4 cm (1 1/2 inch) strip of vinyl in a Chicken McNugget over the weekend. That prompted the chain to halt sales of nuggets made on the same day as the contaminated item at a plant in Thailand. The company is still investigating the cause.
In December, a child’s mouth was injured by a piece of plastic in an ice cream sundae. And according to McDonald’s, the fragment had fallen into the dispenser while being assembled.
In another case, a customer who bought a Big Mac set in August last year found a tooth in the fries. McDonald’s said none of its employees at the outlet or its suppliers had lost a tooth, and there were no signs the tooth had been fried. It was still investigating how the tooth and plastic got in the food.
“To make such cases zero is our goal,” said Takehiko Aoki, a senior executive. “We are doing our utmost to tackle them, one by one.”
Aoki denied such cases highlighted an overall quality-control problem and called them “isolated” cases. He acknowledged there were other cases, including metal in a pancake and plastic in a McMuffin, but declined to give a tally of the incidents.
He said it was possible that outsiders had planted the tooth and other items.
At a packed news conference, executives sought to reassure the public of the safety of McDonald’s food.
“I am confident that my family can eat McDonald’s products,” said Takehiko Aoki, senior vice president at McDonald’s Holding Co (Japan) Ltd.
When questioned on whether the company had been slow to announce its findings, he replied,
“I think our response has been appropriate.”