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Bulgogi burgers back on the menu at McDonald’s

Sept 15,2017
McDonald’s Korea announced Thursday that it will resume sales of bulgogi burgers, citing the result of an investigation by health authorities’ that found no irregularity in food safety standards.

The multinational food chain’s decision to lift the suspension on the Koreanized burger came 12 days after it halted sales following a string of allegations that its products made customers sick, including a five-year old girl whose heart stopped for four minutes until she was revived by CPR.

“Public health authorities and local government officials visited the Jeonju branch [in North Jeolla] on Sept. 2 to take bulgogi burgers and 20-some burger ingredients and inspected them for food safety requirements,” said the fast-food chain in a statement Thursday, adding the authorities also inspected sanitation standards for its Jeonju branch employees.

“It has been confirmed by the authorities that our products and ingredients all met food safety standards. Our employees’ sanitary conditions have also been approved,” it continued.

Following the inspection, McDonald’s announced it would resume selling bulgogi burgers from Friday.

The authorities’ finding no breach in sanitation and food safety standards at the Jeonju branch will come as a relief for the company, which has been mired in a number of cases that fueled questions over whether it was safe to consume its burgers.

The latest allegation involves seven elementary school students and one adult who showed symptoms of food poisoning including vomiting and diarrhea after eating bulgogi burgers on Aug. 25 at the Jeonju branch. It was also revealed that a 36-year-old customer suffered from signs of food poisoning after eating a bulgogi burger on Aug. 24 at the same Jeonju branch.

The company decided to temporarily stop selling the burgers pending the outcome of the Sept. 2 government inspection.

McDonald’s Korea also suffered a public relations crisis in July when a mother filed a lawsuit claiming that her five-year-old daughter contracted hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS), widely known as “hamburger disease,” a bacterial infection that can leave the renal system severely damaged, after eating a bulgogi burger Happy Meal in September of last year.

The mother, Choi Eun-ju, raised the lawsuit after the food chain refused to accept Choi’s insurance coverage request, citing a lack of evidence that its products were responsible.

Choi’s daughter now must undergo nine hours of peritoneal dialysis on a daily basis.

In a move to ease public suspicion and criticism, McDonald’s Korea issued a statement on Sept. 7, expressing its regret over the series of allegations that is products were responsible for illnesses. “I am also a mom… I live every day with concern over these recent matters,” said Melanie Joh, head of McDonald’s Korea, in the statement last week. She also said she was looking “for possible ways we can support” the Choi family and the child.


BY KANG JIN-KYU [kang.jinkyu@joongang.co.kr]