How a McDonald’s hot chocolate nearly killed a man
A paramedic with a severe lactose allergy had to be rushed to hospital after a McDonald’s employee mistakenly gave him a hot chocolate.
22-year-old George Brown originally ordered a black coffee because of his allergy to milk but was given the wrong beverage at the Manchester Piccadilly Gardens branch in the UK.
Despite making sure to provide clear instructions in his self-service order for a black coffee, the risk was hardly minimised as Mr Brown was still the victim of human error.
“I took one sip of the drink and spat it out,” said Mr Brown. “My tongue started swelling immediately. I was wheezing, dizzy and short of breath.”
“The risk with an allergic reaction is that they are unpredictable. You can’t tell if they’re going to get worse.
“A reaction like this can narrow your airways to the point where you can’t breathe – respiratory arrest – and then the heart stops – cardiac arrests – which means death.
“That’s the severe level it could have gone to. I could have died.”
Thankfully, he was on duty when the incident occurred, and his fellow paramedic colleague knew exactly what to do and had the right drugs on hand.
Richard McManus immediately jumped to the rescue as he gave Mr Brown antihistamine to reduce the swelling and nebulised medication.
He also radioed for a rapid response car, which took the young man to Manchester Royal Infirmary.
McDonald’s has since apologised for the “most unfortunate error” and said it was “simply not good enough.”
The fast food empire claims to provide training to their staff on how to deal with food allergies.
Mr Brown was compensated with a replacement large coffee, free breakfast and meal vouches.
McDonald’s said: “We absolutely recognise this mistake was unacceptable and sincerely apologise to the customer in question.
“This was simply not good enough. We have a number of procedures in place to avoid inaccurate orders, but in this case, these were clearly not followed.
“The incident was fully investigated, and the restaurant team have undergone specific additional training to ensure a mistake like this is not made again.”