Supreme Prosecutors` Office in Seoul (Yonhap)
South Korean prosecutors said Friday they have decided not to file charges against the local unit of McDonald's after wrapping up their reinvestigation into the so-called hamburger disease case involving some local consumers of the American fast food giant.
The Seoul Central District Prosecutors Office said it has decided not to indict McDonald's Korea after concluding that it is difficult to acknowledge a causal relationship between hamburgers from McDonald's Korea and the hamburger disease, also known as hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS), that causes acute kidney injury in children.
The prosecution said that it is difficult to say that McDonald's Korea made and sold hamburgers after it was aware of contamination or possible contamination of patties from meat supplier Mackie Korea.
By reaching such a conclusion, the prosecution suggested that it is difficult to admit any intentionality on the part of McDonald's Korea.
While dropping charges against the fast food giant, however, the prosecution said it indicted a former McDonald's Korea executive surnamed Kim and two officials of Mackie Korea without detention on charges of deceiving government officials as to the amount of contaminated patties to avoid administrative sanctions.
The so-called burger patty scandal dates back to July 2017, when the mother of a 5-year-old girl filed a complaint accusing McDonald's Korea of being responsible for her child's incurable kidney disease.
The mother claimed that her daughter was diagnosed with HUS after eating one of its burgers served with an undercooked patty in September 2016.
After a series of similar complaints followed, the prosecution launched an investigation into the allegations.
But in February 2018, state prosecutors decided not to file charges against the fast food chain, citing insufficient evidence to back the accusations.
The prosecution began a reinvestigation into the case in January 2019 after a new complaint was filed by the nine civic groups.
The civic groups argued that McDonald's Korea committed the fault of setting the patty cooking temperature incorrectly, but the prosecution also rejected the claim citing lack of evidence.
But the prosecution said the company is required to create new rules to regularly measure its ground meat cooking temperatures to prevent any recurrence of similar cases. (Yonhap)