Timothy Hughley with the burger his wife nearly bit into at Burger King.
Tim Hughley and his wife Rachel made the find at the Westgate Burger King restaurant in Massey, West Auckland.
Mrs Hughley was about to bite into her burger when her husband, sitting beside her, noticed what looked to be blood splattered on the inside of the burger’s wrapper.
“I looked over because my wife was complaining they’d forgotten the lettuce. And I see this splatter of blood …”
The couple found what appeared to be blood – still wet – splattered on the bottom of the wrapper, on one of the corners, and soaked into the bottom bun of the burger.
Both checked to see if they had any cuts or sores on their hands or wrists, but found nothing. They realised it must have come from the back of the store, where the food was being packed for customers. Burger King spokeswoman Rachel Allison said the chef had given himself a paper-cut on the burger wrapper, and had not noticed he was bleeding.
As soon as the Hughleys complained, he was taken off burger-making duty and the food-making area was sanitised, she said. The company had apologised profusely to the couple and offered Burger King vouchers, which they declined. Mr Hughley said that was not good enough and if nothing better was offered he was considering taking legal advice. “What would have happened if my wife had bitten it and got hepatitis or Aids?” he said.
Mrs Hughley said the incident was disgusting. “The first thing I was thinking was Aids or hepatitis B,” she said. “It’s blood – I was about to throw up.” Mr Hughley said that when he showed the burger to the store’s manager, he jumped and said, “Oh my God, blood”. But instead of tending to the couple, Mr Hughley said, the manager told them to wait and went back to the drive-in counter to serve customers. Ms Allison said the manager immediately went into the kitchen to find where the blood had come from.
“That was done within probably 30 seconds of the customer coming back to the counter.” She did not believe any other burgers were contaminated. Burger King staff do not wear gloves. Ms Allison said they followed what she believed to be best-practice of washing hands every hour and recording each wash on a form. She said the incident was “deeply regrettable. We can completely understand why any customer would be upset in this situation”.
Diagnostic Medlab microbiologist Arthur Morris said there was a low risk of catching hepatitis or HIV from eating a burger with blood on it.