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12/10/01 . Reuters . Reuters . n/a
Chile Finds E. Coli Bacteria in McDonald's Burgers
SANTIAGO, Chile - Chilean health authorities on Thursday said that they found E. coli bacteria in chicken burgers sold by fast-food chain McDonald's that could produce infectious diarrhea and vomiting.
Authorities temporarily closed one McDonald's restaurant in Santiago 2 weeks ago after a routine inspection found traces of the E. coli bacteria, similar to that found in August at four McDonald's restaurants in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
The final test results were released on Thursday.
``We have received confirmation that what was found is a Escherichia coli enterohemorrhagica bacteria, which can result in illness that can range from simple stomach pains to diarrhea with blood and vomiting and even hemolytic-uremic syndrome (HUS),'' Jose Concha, director of Sesma, told reporters.
HUS is an intestinal disease that can be deadly in children under 5 years of age.
``We're talking about a fecal bacteria that should never have been in the hamburger,'' Concha said.
McDonald's representatives in Chile denied Thursday its products carried the more deadly strain of the bacteria.
``We commit ourselves to reinforcing (our food handling and cooking procedures) to avoid any situation of risk for our consumers,'' McDonald's said in a statement.
An independent nutrition research center also said the variety of E. coli detected in the burgers could cause diarrhea but was not fatal.
Health inspectors closed one McDonald's restaurant in Santiago for 4 days and fined the company about $6,000 for the infraction.
McDonald's employs some 3,500 Chileans and has invested more than $120 million in the South American nation.