A pregnant woman in Alberta, Canada, ordered a latte from McDonald’s on Sunday. What she received, instead, was cleaning fluid.
Sarah Douglas, who is 32 weeks pregnant with her third child, told Canada’s CBC News that she was driving her son to a baseball tournament that morning when she stopped at a McDonald’s drive-thru to order a latte. After receiving her drink and getting back onto the highway, she took a sip and immediately had to spit it out.
“I opened up the lid of the coffee and out pours this pungent smell of chemical. It wasn’t a latte at all,” Douglas told CBC News, adding that the liquid was a watery-brownish color.
After pulling over on the side of the road to rinse her mouth, Douglas then drove back to McDonald’s and demanded to speak to a supervisor, who then asked her if she wanted a new drink.
Unsurprisingly, Douglas declined, and soon learned from one of the employees that two cleaning lines had been hooked up to the latte machine when her drink was made — and still were, when she returned with her tainted coffee — which is how the cleaning solution had gotten into the milk supply line. After the supervisor showed her a bottle of the cleaning solution, Douglas took a picture of it, she explained, “So I knew what I was working with — what I had consumed so I could talk to 811 and poison control.” 811 is the number for Canada's HealthLine.
Apparently, what had happened may not have been a first-time offense. Douglas told Lethbridge News Now that another employee overheard what had happened, and “was a little bit upset at the situation and said that this had happened before. And she was a little mad that it was occurring again.”
Douglas also shared documents provided to her by Alison Mackisey, Lethbridge and area brand manager for McDonald’s, listing the chemical composition of the solution she was served that morning, LNN reports. The solution reportedly included such chemicals as citric acid, phosphoric acid, methyl-trimethyl-3, and 2-butoxyethanol.
Douglas told CBC News that she was lucky because she never swallowed the contents of the cup, but worried that children could be at risk of ingesting such dangerous chemicals if the same cleaning solution had been used in a different machines.
“As a mother, I want to make sure I have a voice and that I’m being heard in terms of the safety of consumers,” she said.
McDonald’s External Communications Supervisor, Corporate Relations, Laura Munzar, released a statement to LNN on behalf of franchise owner Dan Brown, stating that he and his team have been “in very close contact” with Douglas and have apologized to her.
“The health inspector also visited my restaurant and is not investigating further,” the statement continued. “McDonald’s is renowned for its food safety protocols and I am sorry that this happened in my restaurant here in Lethbridge.”
The statement included an explanation for the mishap.
“What happened is that the machine was being cleaned — as it is every morning. Unfortunately, the milk supply line was connected to the cleaning solution while this guest’s drink was made,” Brown explained. “We have taken immediate action to review the proper cleaning procedures with the team and have put additional signage up as an added reminder.”
[Photo: Stock photo of a woman posing with a cup of coffee inside a McDonald’s restaurant. By Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto, via Getty Images]