Hampton Roads, Virginia
Thursday, Nov. 30, 2000
Chicken head found in wing box
Mother still dealing with her discovery
Katherine Ortega holds the chicken head found in the box of wings she purchased from McDonald's on Tuesday.
Sangjib Min/Daily Press
By Keith Rushing
NEWPORT NEWS - Katherine Ortega was looking forward to eating a chicken dinner after a family outing Tuesday night.
She ordered a box of fried wings from McDonald's and was putting them on plates for her two children when she found a chicken part that definitely wasn't a wing.
"I noticed that it had a beak and it had eyes," said Ortega. "I screamed." The unusual piece turned out to be a fried chicken head.
Ortega called the McDonald's on Warwick near Hickory Point Boulevard where she purchased the dinner and told a restaurant manager about it. She said the manager was pretty matter-of-fact.
"He said, 'Just bring it back. We'll send it back to the company,' " Ortega said.
The manager told her that she could have a refund or another box of wings. But Ortega said she had lost her appetite for chicken.
"There's no way I wanted another chicken box," Ortega said.
Ortega said she fixed grilled cheese sandwiches for her family. "I will probably cook at home from now on," she said.
Ortega said that although the manager told her she could bring the chicken head back to the restaurant she told him he could see it on television.
"I wanted consumers to watch and know what they're eating," she said. Ortega said several co-workers have told her that she was correct to alert the public. She said it's taking her a while to get over the ordeal.
Ortega was unable to sleep Tuesday night, she said.
"I kept thinking about my children eating it," Ortega said.
She said that if she had just let her children dig in, her youngest child who is 5 years old probably would've bitten the head without looking at it.
Ortega isn't sure if she'll file a lawsuit. But she said that she contacted the FDA for advice on handling the incident.
She's also planning to meet with McDonald's officials who want to know more about the matter.
Ortega wants more information, too. "I just want to know how it got there," she said.
A manager at the McDonald's where she bought the chicken refused comment Wednesday night. Corporate officials couldn't be reached for comment.
Keith Rushing can be reached at 247-7870 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org