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04/07/03 . n/a . Reuters . Argentina  
Argentina Shuts McDonald's, Burger King Outlets  
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (Reuters) - Argentine authorities have shut down a McDonald's outlet and a Burger King outside Buenos Aires, saying preliminary tests on food samples showed positive for the potentially deadly E-coli bacteria.  

"The closures are a precaution, because two preliminary lab tests were positive for the bacteria on samples taken June 24," Ana Repetto, a senior official for the local government of Moron district, 22 miles west of the capital, said on Friday.

Repetto said the two outlets -- closed on Thursday evening -- would remain shut until further tests were completed.

E. coli is a bacteria that causes diarrhea and dehydration, and can be fatal in some extreme cases.

The closures come just two weeks after local McDonald's executives publicly denied the company's products were to blame for the death of a 7-year-old boy in the city of La Plata, south of the capital. The boy's parents maintain he died from food poisoning after eating at the fast food chain.

McDonald's issued a statement on Friday saying it was "surprised at the decision (to close its outlet) on the basis of a test on a raw meat sample, because that is not how the products are delivered to the public."

Repetto said health experts had made clear that cooking at high temperatures may not be enough to eliminate the risk of E-coli, saying the bacteria could be passed on to bread or utensils touched by the pre-cooked meat.

The local unit of Burger King said in a statement it had hired an independent lab to carry out "a parallel test."  
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