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Mcdonalds lied again about its french fries

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Posted on Sat, Feb. 18, 2006
Jupiter couple sue McDonald's, claiming fries made daughter ill

Associated Press

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - The parents of a 5-year-old girl sued McDonald's Corp., claiming its french fries contained a wheat protein that caused their daughter to become seriously ill.

Mark and Theresa Chimiak of Jupiter said in the lawsuit filed Friday in Palm Beach Circuit Court that their daughter Annalise had an intolerance to gluten.

The Chimiaks said they filed the lawsuit after McDonald's acknowledged earlier in the week that wheat and dairy ingredients were used in cooking oil for french fries.

The family's attorney, Brian W. Smith, said the family had checked with McDonald's before she ate the fries.

"They were assured by McDonald's Web site and local restaurant managers that the product was gluten-free," Smith said.

Media calls Saturday to McDonald's corporate offices were directed to a phone line that rang unanswered.

According to the lawsuit, Annalise became seriously ill with advanced celiac disease, an autoimmune condition, as well as epileptic seizures and stomach ulcers.

Jack Daly, senior vice president of McDonald's Corp., said Friday in an e-mail to the Palm Beach Post that the company had not yet had the chance to review the case.

"However, we can tell you that we are in the middle of conducting research to determine that our fries have no gluten," Daly said.

McDonald's said Monday that wheat and dairy ingredients flavor the fries. The substances can cause allergic or other medical reactions in food-sensitive consumers.

Until recently, McDonald's had said its fries were free of gluten and milk or wheat allergens and safe to eat for those with dietary issues related to dairy items. But the fast-food company added "Contains wheat and milk ingredients" this month to the french fries listing on its Web site.

The move was in response to new rules for the packaged foods industry by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that required reporting of the presence of common allergens such as milk, eggs, wheat, fish or peanuts. As a restaurant operator, Oak Brook, Ill.-based McDonald's does not have to comply but has done so voluntarily.

McDonald's director of global nutrition, Cathy Kapica, said earlier this week that potato suppliers remove all wheat and dairy proteins, such as gluten, which can cause allergic reactions. But the flavoring agent in the cooking oil is a derivative of wheat and dairy ingredients, and the company noted their presence after FDA stipulated that potential allergens be disclosed.

The Chimiaks asked damages for claims of product liability, negligence, fraudulent misrepresentation and violation of the Florida Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. They claimed the fries contained gluten despite assurances they were gluten-free and safe for people with gluten allergies.

Annalise ate McDonald's fries between 2004 and 2006, the lawsuit states.

The Chimiaks sued both McDonald's corporation and Jupiter Festival Ltd., a franchisee.

It is not the only case spawned by the admission that wheat and dairy ingredients were used in the fries' cooking oil.

Debra Moffatt of Lombard, Ill., on Friday filed a proposed class-action lawsuit claiming the fast-food giant misled the public. Her attorney says she has celiac disease that causes gastrointestinal symptoms when set off by eating gluten, a protein found in wheat.

Nadia Sugich of Los Angeles sued McDonald's on Wednesday, saying she is a vegan and would not have bought or eaten the fries if she had known they were not vegan.

In 2002, the company paid $10 million to settle a lawsuit by vegetarian groups after it was disclosed that its fries were being cooked in beef-flavored oil.

The company also paid $8.5 million in February 2005 to settle a suit by a nonprofit group that claimed the company misled consumers by announcing it was changing its cooking oil, then delaying the change.

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