Suddenly, her mouth started to burn, and her eyes began to water. Initially, she thought that maybe her latte was too hot when she first tried it, but then she realized that something was terribly wrong.
Then, the burning feeling started to travel to her stomach. She called 911 and prayed it wasn’t too late.
One day, Canadian Sara Douglas stopped at McDonald’s to get herself a warm cup of latte. She was exhausted and needed something to keep her going.
She pulled up to the drive-thru window and placed her order. A few minutes later, she got what she thought was a coffee.
The server at the window who handed her the cup didn’t realize what a mistake he had just made. He was sure he had given her the correct order.
The ‘latte’ he gave Sara was piping hot. She waited a couple of minutes before taking a sip and immediately noticed that something was off.
“I immediately had to put my hazard lights on and pull over and spit it out and rinse my mouth out,” Sara told CBC News.
When she took the lid off the cup, Sara said she sniffed a “pungent smell of the chemical,” which prompted her to return to McDonald’s and speak with the manager.
Sara’s throat and tongue felt like they were on fire after taking just one sip of her drink. What had the staff put in her coffee? Were they trying to poison her?
Sara was 32 weeks pregnant at the time, and she was fuming. She was ready to give McDonald’s employees a piece of her mind.
Sara arrived and demanded to speak with the manager. The supervisor explained to her that the manager was off-duty and she could speak to him instead.
He knew by her stance that something serious had happened.
Sara removed the lid of her latte and shoved it in the supervisor’s face for him to smell. He apologized and offered to replace it for her free of charge.
Apparently, this wasn’t the first time they had encountered something like this.
One of the employees who overheard Sara talking with the supervisor “was a little bit upset at the situation and said that this had happened before,” Sara said. “And she was a little mad that it was occurring again.”
The employee had an idea of what could have caused the smell and taste, and it turned out to be worse than she could have imagined.
The staff member explained that the milk line was connected to two cleaning lines, a detail later confirmed by the franchise owner, Dan Brown.
Sara’s latte contained a dangerous mix of cleaning chemicals that could have killed her and her baby.
“What happened is that the machine was being cleaned as it is every morning,” Brown said in a statement.
“Unfortunately, the milk supply line was connected to the cleaning solution while this guest’s drink was made.”
Sara was appalled. She asked the supervisor to see the bottle of the cleaning fluid, and he handed it to her. There were several warnings on its label, such as “keep out of reach of children.”
She immediately pulled out her cell phone and called the poison control center on the label.
Since Sara didn’t swallow any fluid, she was ultimately fine and given an all-clear by the doctor.
After inspecting the coffee cup, Sara said that “you could tell that it had kind of been eaten away at the seam.” Did she experience any lasting effects from the contaminated latte?
“It took a couple of days for the smell and the taste to even leave my mind,” she said.
Shortly after the traumatizing incident, she received an apology from the owner of the franchise in a form of a statement.
“McDonald’s is renowned for its food safety protocols, and I am sorry that this happened in my restaurant here in Lethbridge,” Brown wrote.
“We have taken immediate action to review the proper cleaning procedures with the team and have put additional signage up as an added reminder.”
What happened to Sara is terrible. We wish her a speedy recovery and hope no other person will ever have to experience this horror again.
Do you think the owner should have done more for Sara?