Lombard woman sues McDonald's over french fry ingredients

Sunday, February 19, 2006

CHICAGO -- Four days after McDonald's Corp. acknowledged its french fries contain wheat and milk ingredients, a suburban Lombard woman filed a proposed class-action lawsuit claiming the fast-food giant misled the public.

Debra Moffatt seeks unspecified damages in a suit filed Friday in Cook County Circuit Court. Her attorney, Thomas Pakenas, said his client has celiac disease that causes gastrointestinal symptoms when set off by eating gluten, a protein found in wheat.

"You cannot sell gluten-free french fries when they have gluten," Pakenas said.

Oak Brook-based McDonald's said Feb. 13 that wheat and dairy ingredients are used to flavor its fries.

Jack Daly, McDonald's senior vice president, said in a statement the company has not reviewed the case yet and is testing its fries for gluten through a food allergy research program at the University of Nebraska.

At least two other lawsuits have been filed over the ingredients in McDonald's fries.

On Friday, Mark and Theresa Chimiak of Jupiter, Fla., sued the fast-food chain, claiming their 5-year-old daughter has an intolerance to gluten. On Wednesday, Nadia Sugich of Los Angeles sued McDonald's, saying she is a vegan and would not have eaten the fries if she had known they contained dairy products.

Until recently, the company had said its fries were free of gluten and milk or wheat allergens and safe for people with dietary issues related to the consumption of dairy items. But this month, the fast-food company quietly added "Contains wheat and milk ingredients" to the french fries listing on its Web site.

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