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(LEAD) Court rejects McDonald's injunction against consumer report disclosure

2017/08/10 16:31

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(ATTN: UPDATES with reaction from McDonald's in last 2 paras; Minor edits)

CHEONGJU, South Korea, Aug. 10 (Yonhap) -- A regional court on Thursday dismissed an injunction request filed by the local unit of McDonald's seeking to stop the disclosure of a consumer report on hamburger patties, amid controversy over allegations that it served undercooked meat and caused some children to get sick.

The Korea Consumer Agency (KCA) has conducted a survey on the sanitary conditions of some 38 hamburgers sold at five local convenience stores and six fast-food franchises.

The probe reportedly found one of the McDonald's burgers had an excessive level of Staphylococcus aureus, a type of bacteria that often causes respiratory infections and food poisoning.

The fast-food chain had requested the Cheongju District Court to ban the disclosure of the report, claiming that the probe did not follow proper procedures before they tested the food. It said the consumer watchdog's official carried the burger in question in a shopping bag instead of a sealed and sterilized container designed to maintain a low temperature.

The consumer agency has denied the accusations and insisted there were no procedural flaws.

The Cheongju office of the court dismissed McDonald's request, saying that there is no reason for the report to be restricted from public disclosure.

The consumer agency is expected to release the report to the media and public in the coming days, it said.

Early last month, a woman lodged a complaint with the local prosecution against McDonald's, claiming that her 5-year-old daughter now has permanently damaged kidneys after eating a Happy Meal burger served with an undercooked patty. A few other families and an individual followed suit. At least five people currently claim to be victims of undercooked McDonald's patties.

Following the ruling, McDonald's immediately released a statement saying that it is reviewing whether to file a separate suit against the KCA for disclosing the report results and failing to meet due procedures in the course of carrying out the inspection.

"Considering that the latest injunction was to stop the report from being released, we find it very regretful that the content was leaked in advance while the court was reviewing the case," the fast-food chain said in a press release.