McDonald’s was not cited by the Erie County Health Department for dripping blood
McDonald’s was not cited by the Erie County Health Department for dripping blood

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The Summit Township McDonald’s, which served bloodied food wrappers to a customer earlier this month and then told the Erie County health inspector the incident did not occur, has not been cited for any violations of the Pennsylvania Food Code.

The county health department decided not to revisit the restaurant, 7200 Peach St., after learning from the Erie Times-News that a spokesman for McDonald’s Corp. confirmed that a worker had suffered a cut.

“We did not reach out again because the customer had already been treated for his exposure and we received no other complaints,” said Breanna Adams, director of environmental health services for the county health department. “Also, the risk to customers was reduced at that point.”

The incident happened on March 9 after Elizabeth Kido and her friend ordered lunch for their families at the restaurant. Kido, a 29-year-old resident of Bemus Point, N.Y., noticed a red spot on the palm of her hand after taking a sip of Diet Coke and then licked off the substance, thinking it was ketchup.

It was found to be blood that had been smeared on the cup. Kido said she also found drops of blood on a Big Mac container, a Happy Meal container and one of her receipts.

Kido showed McDonald’s employees the blood-stained packaging. She said a shift supervisor later confirmed that the clerk who packed their order had a cut that was bleeding.

The incident was also confirmed by a McDonald’s spokeswoman, who told the Erie Times-News that the cut was minor.

“The issue was resolved with a Band-Aid,” the spokeswoman said.

McDonald’s staff told the health inspector there was no bleeding

Kiddo reported the incident that day to the county health department, which sent an inspector to the restaurant on March 11.

The inspector observed the restaurant’s food preparation procedures and confirmed that employees handling the food were wearing gloves, Adams said. Staff were asked about the incident and told the inspector they did not notice anyone bleeding.

“The main thing we looked at was their food safety training. McDonald’s compliance is good,” Adams said. “We’re not sure why there was that miscommunication (about the employee bleeding).”

A follow-up message left Wednesday with a McDonald’s spokeswoman was not returned.

Client taking antivirals tested after exposure

Because no employee was identified and tested for blood-borne diseases such as HIV and hepatitis, Kiddo’s doctor prescribed the antiviral drugs Truvada and Isentress to reduce the risk of illness.

Kiddo also undergoes regular blood tests for at least the next six months.

More ▼: Blood on Erie-area McDonald’s items alerts diner. The county health department is investigating

Her chance of contracting HIV from consuming blood is extremely rare, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Hepatitis A can be spread by an infected person who mishandles food, while hepatitis B and C are spread primarily through blood-to-blood contact.

The incident comes about a month after a food employee at Cracker Barrel, 7810 Interstate Drive, was diagnosed with hepatitis A. Customers who ate at the Summit Township restaurant between Feb. 10 and Feb. 21 received hepatitis A shots at a clinic of the county health department.

There have been no other reported cases of hepatitis A linked to the Cracker Barrel employee, county health officials said.

The health department cannot force an employee to get tested

The state food code and public health law do not give the county health department the authority to compel an employee to be tested for blood-borne diseases because no signs of illness symptoms have been reported, Adams said.

“The exposure seems very limited to the complainant’s side,” Adams said. “There is no reason to suspect a public health risk to other users during this event or at this time.”

Kido said she has not been contacted by anyone associated with McDonald’s since she reported the incident to the county health department.

“Throughout this process, I’ve been waiting and hoping that (McDonald’s) would do the right thing…” Kido said. “My concerns are for others who may have been exposed and failed to take the necessary steps to protect themselves. They downplayed the seriousness by putting in the Band-Aid comment.”

Kido said she had an appointment Thursday to speak with a lawyer about the incident.

Contact David Bruce at [email protected]. Follow him on X @ETNBruce.

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