Thursday, March 24, 2005
San Jose, California — A woman eating a bowl of chili at a Wendy's restaurant bit into a chewy bit that turned out to be a human finger. She immediately spat it out, warned other patrons to stop eating, and upon recognizing the object as a finger, vomited.
"I'm more of a Carl's Jr. person," the 39-year-old Las Vegas woman, Anna Ayala, told Knight Ridder. She said this incident was her first visit to a Wendy's restaurant. Ayala described how she found the finger, "Suddenly something crunchy was in my mouth," she continued, "and I spit it out."
According to Devina Cordero, 20, after Ayala found the finger, she ran up to her and Cordero's boyfriend and said, "Don't eat it! Look, there's a human finger in our chili."
"We went up to the counter and they told us it was a vegetable," Cordero continued. "The people from Wendy's were poking it with a spoon."
The restaurant is located at 1405 Monterey Highway, just south of downtown San Jose.
Wikinews reporter David Vasquez drove his car up to the drive-thru menu and found that chili was still on the menu, at a price of US$1.19 for a small serving. He also witnessed workers unloading supplies from a semi-trailer truck in the restaurant's parking lot, and carting them into the back door of the establishment.
According to Ben Gale, director of environmental health for Santa Clara County, the finger did not come from any of the employees at the restaurant. "We asked everybody to show us they have 10 fingers and everything is OK there," he said. The found portion of the finger likely belonged to a woman because of its long and manicured fingernail, also found in the food.
Officials seized the food supply at the restaurant and are tracing it back to the manufacturer, where they believe the finger may have gotten mixed in with the raw ingredients used to prepare the chili. The restaurant's operators were later permitted to re-open after preparing new chili prepared from fresh ingredients.
As this story was filed, there was no mention of the incident on the Wendy's corporate web site. Wendy's issued a statement through a spokesman.
"Food safety is of utmost importance to us," said Wendy's spokesman Joe Desmond. He referred to the incident as an "unsubstantiated claim."
"We are cooperating fully with the local police and health departments with their investigation. It's important not to jump to conclusions. Here at Wendy's we plan to do right by our customers," Desmond said.
According to county health officials, the unfortunate woman who bit into the finger is doing fine, despite her initial reaction. Officials also noted that the finger would have been cooked at a high enough temperature to destroy any viruses.
The Santa Clara county medical examiner reported that the finger had a solid fingerprint, although investigators did not say if a search of fingerprint databases would be performed to find the owner of the finger.