Latin America

Mexican man’s claim of finding rat in McDonald’s burger sparks panic

Prosecutors shut down restaurant while investigation into incident continues US fast-food chain officials claim that the rodent had been planted in the meal

The entrance to a McDonald's restaurant in Caracas, Venezuela.
The entrance to a McDonald's restaurant in Caracas, Venezuela.Fernando Llano / AP

One of the world’s most-told urban legends about fast food and rodents has set off widespread panic in Mexico, and could have serious consequences for the US restaurant chain McDonald’s.

According to prosecutors, a 45-year-old customer recently found a rat’s head in his food after taking four bites out of his hamburger. When he realized the meat wasn’t exactly what was being offered on the McMenu, he went directly to the public prosecutor’s office in Mexico State, along with his evidence, to file a complaint.

A tweet containg photos claiming to show the animal’s head in the burger.

On Monday, investigators shut down the restaurant as a precaution.

“We shall investigate whether there are remains inside the restaurant that match the rodent’s body, or that of any other animal,” the prosecutor’s office said.

After giving a statement with his hamburger rat in hand, the customer went to a local Red Cross hospital to be examined, investigators said. The results of his lab tests will have to be handed over to authorities if he is to back up his claim.

Vehemently denying the allegations, McDonald’s has now had to respond to a string of complaints by customers posted on Twitter.

“Our priority is quality and food safety,” restaurant officials said. “We have carried out an exhaustive inquiry and the allegations are totally false – it was a case of someone planting an animal.”

Fear of similar alleged episodes occurring has spread fear across the social networks in Mexico, with many users posting pictures of dead rodents alongside food.

More information

Besides the prosecutor’s office, Mexico’s Federal Commission for the Protection against Health Risks (Confepris) is also investigating whether the allegations are true or if it was actually a case of someone planting a dead animal in a hamburger.

In April, authorities closed down a Chinese restaurant in Tijuana after investigators discovered its owners were selling dog meat. Five people were arrested.

English version by Martin Delfín.

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