McDonald's Japan apologises after human tooth, vinyl strip and plastic among objects found in customers' food

Officials maintained that they were 'isolated' incidents

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The Independent Online

A human tooth, pieces of plastic and a strip of vinyl were among the objects found in food served by McDonald’s Japan, it was revealed today - as officials apologised and vowed to ensure product safety in the future.

Speaking at a busy news conference, Takehiko Aoki, a senior vice president at McDonald's Holding Co (Japan) Ltd, denied that the cases highlighted an overall quality-control problem and maintained that they were "isolated" incidents.

"To make such cases zero is our goal," he said. "We are doing our utmost to tackle them, one by one."

At the weekend a diner found a roughly 4 cm strip of vinyl in a Chicken McNugget. The chain halted all sales of nuggets made on the same day as the contaminated item at a plant in Thailand. The company is still investigating the cause.

The incident came after a child’s mouth was injured  by a piece of plastic concealed in a chocolate ice cream sundae in December. The fragment had fallen into the dispenser while being assembled, according to McDonald's.

And in August a human tooth was found in a customer’s french fry. 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.

Takehiko Aoki also 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.

However, he said that the food was still safe to eat.

"I will eat McNuggets," he said. "I will feed McNuggets to my children. I have no doubts."

The apology came in the wake of a different kind of problem at the popular eatery - a lack of french fries. On Monday McDonald's Japan resumed sales of all sizes of french fries for the first time in three weeks. A labour dispute at US West Coast ports had delayed imports, forcing the company to ration portions.

McDonald's is popular in Japan, running more than 3,000 restaurants, but the chain, 49.9 per cent-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.

Last year, McDonald's in China and Japan along with other fast-food brands were hit by a scandal over expired meat from a Chinese supplier.

McDonald's Japan only started sourcing nuggets from three Thai plants less than six months ago. The change was aimed at boosting confidence in product quality after Chinese supplier Shanghai Husi Food Co Ltd was accused of selling expired meat.

Additional reporting by agencies

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