EXCLUSIVE UPDATED: Pregnant Lethbridge mom says she was served cleaning chemical instead of a latte at McDonald's

By Lara Fominoff @LaraFominoff on Twitter
July 30, 2018 - 1:30pm Updated: January 24, 2019 - 6:30pm

LETHBRIDGE - UPDATE 3:00 p.m.  - Lethbridge News Now has received a response from McDonald's External Communications Supervisor, Corporate Relations, Laura Munzar, on behalf of franchisee owner Dan Brown. Here is the statement in full:

Since learning about the complaint, our team has been in very close contact with the guest and apologized to her. The health inspector also visited my restaurant and is not investigating further.
McDonald’s is renowned for its food safety protocols and I am sorry that this happened in my restaurant here in Lethbridge.
What happened is that the machine was being cleaned – as it is every morning. Unfortunately, the milk supply line was connected to the cleaning solution while this guest’s drink was made.
We have taken immediate action to review the proper cleaning procedures with the team and have put additional signage up as an added reminder.
-          Dan Brown, Franchisee, McDonald’s Lethbridge


A Lethbridge mother who is 32 weeks pregnant with her third child says she was served a cleaning agent from a McDonald's on University Dr. West, rather than the latte she ordered.

Sarah Douglas says she was taking her son to a baseball tournament in Medicine Hat, and she went to the drive-though at the west-side McDonald's around 6:45 a.m. Sunday, July 29, and ordered a latte. She then drove onto Highway 3, and as she was doing so, she took a sip of what she believed was the coffee she had just ordered.

"As a mother, I want to make sure I have voice and that I'm being heard in terms of the safety of consumers."

"I immediately had to put my hazard lights on and pull over and spit it out and rinse my mouth out with...in the door of my vehicle I had some water. I opened up the lid of the coffee and out pours this pungent smell of chemical. It wasn't a latte at all."



She didn't take a picture of it, but says it looked a watery- brownish colour; and as if it had been standing for a long period of time. She put the lid back on the coffee container, immediately drove back to the McDonald's in question, and asked to speak to a supervisor.

"I showed him the coffee and he had asked if I wanted a new one, and I said, 'absolutely not, this is unacceptable.' I said I need to speak to someone higher up and he said he was the only supervisor on at the time, and he gave me his manager's phone number."

She said that one of the workers told her two cleaning lines were hooked up to the latte machine, even as she brought back her coffee.

"The supervisor went and got the bottle that was hooked up to it and brought it over to the counter, and I took a picture of it, so I knew what I was working with - what I had consumed so I could talk to 811 and poison control. So, I took a picture of it and then another co-worker of his had also overheard what had been going on, and was a little bit upset at the situation and said that this had happened before. And she was a little mad that it was occurring again."

Douglas then contacted Alberta Health Services’ Health Link at 811 and was transferred to poison control. Now, she says she feels ok - although she will be seeing her family doctor as soon as possible.

LNN spoke with Douglas Monday morning, and she provided documents from Alison Mackisey, Lethbridge and area Brand Manager of McDonald's showing the chemical composition of the cleaning agent she ingested. She says Mackisey has so far been the only person from McDonald's who has reached out to her to find out if she is ok, or to offer any help.

Douglas says she was told that no one from McDonald's corporate offices would likely contact her until Wednesday, August 1 - three days after the alleged incident occurred.

The message from Mackisey shows that the cleaning agent contains citric acid, phosphoric acid, methy-trimethyl-3, and 2-butoxyethanol. It also indicates what type of first aid methods should be employed should it be ingested.

Douglas explained that she wanted to share her experience and story to ensure that this never happens again. She worries that if cleaning solutions such as the one used in the coffee maker are also used for the juice, soft-serve or pop machines and a child ingests those chemicals, that more serious consequences may result.

"As a mother, I want to make sure I have voice and that I'm being heard in terms of the safety of consumers, and how (alleged) negligence can affect people in such a drastic way."

She adds that prior to this occasion, she has never had an issue with the restaurant and hopes that her experience can be used as a learning tool to bring awareness to the chain about enforcing proper procedures or perhaps improving employee training.

LNN went to the McDonald's in question and spoke with Manager Kevin Stalker, who confirmed that he was aware of the incident that had taken place Sunday morning.

Alberta Health Services has issued a statement indicating that AHS Environmental Public Health was informed about an incident that took place on Sunday (Jul 29) at a west Lethbridge restaurant, and they are investigating the complaint at this time.

***Up-Date corrected spelling McDonalds.

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