• Kyodo, Bloomberg


A small rubber fragment was found in a chicken nugget at a McDonald’s outlet in Okayama Prefecture last October, a public relations official of McDonald’s Holdings Co. (Japan) revealed Saturday.

The fragment was reported by a female customer at a McDonald’s in Tsuyama on Oct. 31, and was later confirmed to be from the glove of a worker in a Thai factory, the public relations official said.

McDonald’s Japan apologized to the customer Thursday, according to the official.

Workers at the factory in Thailand are supposed to check every half-hour whether their disposable gloves are torn. “It was highly likely that a tear had been overlooked,” the official noted.

McDonald’s was already reeling from a week of food-related complaints from customers, including plastics found in chicken nuggets and chocolate sundae, and a human tooth discovered in fries. On Wednesday, the Japanese unit of the global fast-food chain apologized for the string of food safety incidents involving its products.

On Friday, the company reported same-store sales plunged 21 percent in December, the 11th straight monthly decline after the chain was forced to ration french fries because a labor dispute at U.S. ports crimped potato supplies. The number of customers fell 14 percent in the month, while sales per customer dropped by 8 percent on same-store basis, the unit said in a statement to the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Overall sales were down 21 percent.

“In spite of various measures we took against the prolonged labor talks at ports on the U.S. West Coast, changes in products including potato fries affected sales in December,” the unit said in a statement.

McDonald’s Japan airlifted more than 1,000 tons of fries and imported some from U.S. East Coast ports to cope with the shortage, which forced the company to sell only small-sized fries, spokesman McDonald’s Japan Takashi Hasegawa said earlier.

The unit resumed selling all sizes of fries on Monday, it announced on its website.

U.S. mediators agreed to join labor talks at the West Coast ports, seeking to revive the months-long stalled negotiations between dockworkers and shipping firms, the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service said Tuesday.

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