Danger Lurks in Fast Food


The Consumers Association of Penang calls on consumers to be careful when they indulge in fast food. Besides being high in fats sugar or salt, fast food could lead to severe food poisoning.
Recently a family in Sydney won a case against fast food giant KFC after salmonella poisoning left their daughter paralysed. The victim was awarded $8 million (RM25.5 million), but KFC will appeal the case.

The family of Monika Samaan says the then-seven-year-old became ill after eating a chicken Twister from a KFC store in western Sydney in 2005. Monika, who was in a coma for six months, is effectively now a quadriplegic and is severely brain damaged.
During a month-long trial in 2010, Monika’s father told the court he and his wife, along with Monika’s brother, fell sick after sharing her Twister.

Food poisoning is an infection caused by microbes ingested from contaminated foods. Bacteria, viruses and parasites can contaminate fast food during any stage of their collection, processing or distribution. If this food is eaten raw or undercooked, it can result in food poisoning. The degree of illness depends on the type of microbe involved and the health and age of the individual ingesting the food.

Food poisoning may be manifested in several forms to include: vomiting, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. These injuries meanwhile may lead to drastic consequences such as dehydration, headaches, and even results as fatal as death.

Food served in fast food restaurants are preserved, and pre-cooked which makes them vulnerable to contamination.

Contaminated food products have become a growing concern with the increase of fast food chains. With the fast-paced serving and cooking of available food products in fast food chains, what is usually sacrificed is the sanitation of the business establishment.

Fast food often comes in wrappers coated with chemicals to prevent grease from leaking through them. These compounds are able to migrate from the wrappers into the packaged food.

The case reported in Australia is not an isolated case there have been other cases reported on food poisoning due to fast food.

• In January 2012 the Centers of Disease Control (CDC) released a report of its investigation of a multistate Salmonella food poisoning outbreak linked to a Mexican-style fast food restaurant chain which affected a total of 68 individuals

• In August 2011, a Russian customer suffered food poisoning after eating Bic Mac.from McDonalds.

• In March 2011, a retired Russian military officer from St. Petersburg won his lawsuit against McDonald’s, for a broken tooth.

• In August 2010,at least 150 people in 21 states in the US suffered salmonella poisoning after eating at Taco Bell restaurants, and at least one food poisoning lawsuit has been filed against the Mexican fast food chain

At the same time there may be numerous other cases that could have gone unreported.

In view of the latest food poisoning case related to fast food, CAP calls on the Ministry of Health to conduct a health inspection checks on all the fast food establishment in the country and at the same time they should set up a hotline where consumers can report on food poisoning cases.

The authorities should restrict the issuing of licenses to fast food operators as fast food is unhealthy and could lead to obesity.

Meanwhile consumers are advised not to indulge in a fast food meal, instead there should enjoy traditional Malaysian food and home-cooked food.

Press release, 20 June 2012