While she was munching on a McDonald's vegetarian burger last week, Vishaka Sriniwasan, 15, suddenly began choking, her mother Geetha told HT.
Geetha Sriniwasan said she had ordered home several burgers on June 11 night from McDonald's outlet on Linking Road for her daughter's birthday party."My daughter and her friends were eating their burgers when Vishaka complained that something was hurting her," Sriniwasan, who lives on St Martin's Road in Bandra (West), told HT. "I immediately made her spit her burger out and was shocked to see a pinkish metal clip. I asked the others to stop eating and called the company to complain."
|A cellphone photograph, taken by the complainant, of the burger and the pink metal clip that was found in it.|
A friend of Vishaka's who was at the birthday party also told HT that she saw the birthday girl spit out a metal clip. The friend did not wish to be named.
Within half an hour, McDonald's sent a representative with a fresh batch of burgers, Sriniwasan said. He offered to replace the old batch as well as refund the amount Sriniwasan had paid.
Sriniwasan declined the offer, saying she wanted him instead to sign a statement declaring that McDonald's had delivered a burger with a metallic clip lodged in it. This he refused to do, Sriniwasan said.
"Since then, no company official has called," she said.
Sriniwasan sent HT photos that she had taken on Thursday night of what she claims was the errant clip, the burger and the representative from McDonald's who came to her house to replace the food. On Saturday evening, HT's photographer also took photographs of the clip, which Sriniwasan had saved.
No one in McDonald's would come on record with specific comments about the incident. HT visited McDonald's Linking Road outlet, but the restaurant manager did not want HT to publish his response.
HT also contacted McDonald's corporate communications head, who also did not want his comments to appear in print. Finally, HT got in touch with an official at the public relations company that represents the US chain, but that official too did not want his comments published.
But the company did email HT a general statement about its quality standards. "[The company] makes sure that apt actions are always taken to ensure that the high level of service standards, for which McDonald's is renowned the world over, are consistently maintained," the statement said.
According to McDonald's India website, all its outlets in the country source their vegetable patties from Vista Processed Foods' unit in Taloja, about 50 kilometres outside Mumbai.
On Tuesday, Sriniwasan couriered a written complaint to the office of Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation's H-West ward, under which her locality falls, sending a copy to the Food and Drug Administration's joint commissioner.
The ward offer, H.S. Murgunkar, said he had not yet received Sriniwasan's complaint, but S.D. Chaudhary, the food regulator's joint commissioner, said he had.
"We will look into it as per the Prevention of Food Adulteration Act," Choudhary said, adding that he would be able to say in two days what action the regulator would take.
"If a complaint were made, our officials would investigate it," said Dr Jairaj Thanekar, the municipal corporation's executive health officer. "If any foreign particle is found in food that is injurious to health, we would take strict action."
"We have only fifteen inspectors for the city and we monitor quality by drawing food and water samples from time to time," Thanekar added.