When dining out, parents and older family members don't often bite into their kids' meals first to ensure everything has been cooked properly.
But one Arizona woman is saying she wishes she had done something before her granddaughter allegedly bit into a raw chicken sandwich she ordered from Burger King.
On Thursday, Charlotte Parker (who lives in Goodyear, Arizona) picked up a few meals from a drive-thru at a local Burger King restaurant. Parker brought the food home and her family members began to dig in.
However, after taking a few bites of a chicken sandwich, Parker's granddaughter Caitlin, 13, noticed something seemed off.
“She immediately went in the bathroom and threw up," Parker told TODAY Food. "I think that was just the reaction of, ‘Oh no, I’ve eaten raw chicken.’” Parker said her granddaughter is OK and did not contract any type of illness but what is more concerning, she says, was Burger King's reaction — or lack thereof.
Parker said she immediately called the Burger King location to complain and was shocked by an employee's response. "They were very nonchalant about it," she said. The employee she spoke with allegedly told her, "Oh we must have hit the wrong button and didn't cook it long enough." Then the employee reportedly told Parker she was welcome to bring the sandwich back to the restaurant for a refund.
"I said 'I don't want my money back,'" recalls Parker. However, her daughter (Caitlin's mother) did end up taking the sandwich back to the restaurant the following day.
Parker said she's sharing her story because she wants to raise awareness about the "potential hazard" the incident could have caused. She told TODAY that her other granddaughter, who ate chicken nuggets from Burger King that day, has a compromised immune system. "If she had eaten the raw chicken and it had contained salmonella, she could have died."
An employee at the Burger King location where Parker said she picked up the raw chicken sandwich declined to comment on the situation when reached by TODAY. Multiple requests for comment from Barnett Management, the company that owns and operates that location (and more than 40 Burger King locations in Arizona), went unreturned.
The majority of Burger King's 7,000-plus U.S. locations are owned by franchisees. This includes the Buckeye location where Parker took her two granddaughters through the drive-thru last week. She says it was the family's first time eating at this particular Burger King, which she described as being in a "pretty well-to-do" neighborhood. It will also be their last time.
Burger King corporate is aware of the incident and a rep told TODAY the company is still looking into exactly what happened.
"We have very strict protocols guiding the cooking process at restaurants," Andrea Moreno, brand communications lead at Restaurant Brands International (which owns Burger King, Tim Horton's and Popeyes), said. Moreno added that the restaurant owner has since retrained their staff on Burger King cooking protocols. She would not elaborate on what those protocols are.
"Separately, the owner has reached out to the guest to offer a refund and explain the actions the restaurant has taken to ensure this does not happen again," Moreno said.
But Parker, who isn't satisfied with the local Burger King's response and has yet to hear from Burger King corporate, is still skeptical.
"They're too nonchalant because there are other individuals saying things like this have happened before," she said, referring to a private community Facebook page where others have complained about the same Burger King location.
"We shouldn't have to check our food to see if it's been cooked before we eat it. We don’t need to make sure that a child’s chicken nuggets are done," maintains Parker. "That’s the restaurant’s responsibility."