37-year-old Holly Carr, who has a severe egg allergy, was rushed to a nearby hospital in anaphylactic shock after biting into a McDonald’s chicken wrap.
Anaphylaxis is a life-threatening reaction to a food, drug, insect venom, or environmental substance. Epinephrine is the only drug that can halt and reverse the progression of anaphylaxis but it must be administered promptly.
Said Ms Carr:
I want to raise awareness so people with allergies are mindful when ordering from McDonald’s. If I hadn’t had my EpiPen on me, I wouldn’t be here right now. But I don’t get the feeling the company understand that’s how serious it could’ve been.
A mother of four, Ms Carr decided on takeout from a nearby McDonald’s in Crawley, West Sussex UK for a family meal on May 6, 2021. Although she was careful to order a grilled chicken wrap without mayonnaise, that’s not what she received.
After the food was delivered, she checked her sandwich which bore a “No Cool Mayo” sticker as expected. After taking the first bite, she knew something was amiss.
She picks up the story:
It looked like my order was right because the wrap had a ‘no mayo’ sticker on it. I didn’t think twice about checking, but after taking a bite, I immediately tasted the mayonnaise.
I started to be violently sick and was drifting in and out of consciousness – and in that moment, I felt terrified. My fiancé called 111 [Emergency Services] and they instructed him how to use my EpiPen, which saved my life. They sent an ambulance, and I was taken to hospital where they ran some tests and gave me lots of fluids.
But, thankfully, because I wasn’t on my own, and I had a second EpiPen at home, I was swiftly discharged.
Ms Carr took legal action against McDonald’s following the incident. She says she has recently received financial compensation from the company.
The amount I’ve received should be more to be honest, but I’m so tired of it now. It’s been dragging on for nearly two years. I’ve seen a psychologist, who diagnosed me with PTSD from the incident, which can make eating hard sometimes.
I hope they’ve learnt their lesson, but the way they’ve handled it doesn’t fill me with confidence. Hopefully after reading my story, those with allergies will take extra care the next time they order from McDonald’s.
A spokesperson for McDonald’s said:
We would like to offer our apologies to this customer for their experience. We take order accuracy very seriously and have procedures in place to help ensure customers are served correctly.
We are disappointed that we fell short of these high standards on this occasion and additional training has been provided to the restaurant team to ensure they understand the policies in place.
We are thankful Ms Carr was vigilant in having epinephrine on hand and that it was given in a timely fashion. Prompt action by her fiancé in administering her auto-injector likely saved her from even more severe consequences.
A word of caution to our readers: cross-contact — where an allergen is inadvertently introduced where it shouldn’t be — is always a possibility anywhere your allergen of concern is used. Ms Carr did everything right by informing the staff of her allergy and checking the label after it was delivered, but that wasn’t enough in this case.
Where she fell short was failing to inspect the sandwich before biting into it, which should be your final check before eating anything prepared outside the home. Had she opened the sandwich and inspected the contents, she likely would have seen the mayonnaise and avoided the ordeal.
Please be extra careful when eating out, especially at fast food outlets where staff are minimally trained and surfaces are shared.