News / Ottawa

Gatineau family wants answers after McDonald's milkshake made boy's tongue burn

A Gatineau family wants to find out what was in their five-year-old son’s McDonald's milkshake, which they allege made the boy’s tongue burn, his stomach ache and may have led to him being unable to gain weight.

Jon Hansen worries his son may have future complications and says he has been fighting with McDonald’s for almost a year to release a report that he says discloses that a compound was added to the chocolate milkshake.

McDonald’s Canada Spokesperson Jason Patuano said the company launched an internal investigation after the incident and tested the affected milkshake through an independent lab.

He said the results were inconclusive, but would not share the report with Metro.

The dispute started July 22nd last year when Hansen and his family went to the drive thru at the Buckingham McDonalds to get French fries and milkshakes. The English-speaking family said they were ridiculed for not speaking French in the drive-thru. When they got their order, Hansen said the fries “had been stomped on” and his young son said his milkshake “tasted funny.”

“He said it was pepperminty. He didn’t mean it was sweet like peppermint, he meant it burned his mouth,” said Hansen. “I took a sip of it and my tongue felt like it was on fire and it actually burned that night until 11 o’clock.”

Hansen says he went back into the store and confronted the owner, who he says refused to taste the shake. He then ordered another shake, which he says tasted fine and then tasted a sample directly from the machine, which also tasted normal.

The family then rushed their child to hospital and was advised to call poison control. With only minor effects – burning of the mouth and a stomachache – Hansen was told to monitor his son and to return to emergency if his condition worsened.

Hansen says his son’s tastes have changed – he doesn’t like chocolate anymore and has been unable to gain any weight over the last year. He worries future complications may come up and without knowing what was in the shake; doctors can’t fully assess what, if any, damage has been done. They have been fighting with the company to get a copy of the internal investigation. An email from Hansen's lawyer Thomas Hunter of Grant & Dawn Lawyers Professional Corporation in Ottawa says the test revealed there was a, "small amount of store-related compound in the milk shake."

“Enough is enough. We want to know the truth, it’s as simple as that,” said Hansen. “The next time it happens, maybe a child dies.”

But the alleged test results in the email from Hunter are contradicted by Patuano.

“Unfortunately, the lab was unable to determine the source however was able to confirm that there were no cleaning solutions contained in the child’s milk shake as was originally alleged,” Patuano wrote  in an email to Metro. “We also confirmed that a total of 63 milk shakes were sold in the restaurant that day without any other complaints being reported.”

Hansen said McDonald's lawyers first offered his family a settlement of $1,000, then $3,000 and then $50,000 when they insisted on seeing the report. Patuano would not comment on the alleged settlement offer saying only his firm has tried unsuccessfully to reach an “equitable resolution” with the family.