When it comes to things that can be used to harm a police officer, things like guns, knives, and fists come to mind. But what about food? Officers from across the country have found everything from drugs and glass to pubic hair and spit intentionally planted in their meals.
Most recently, an Iowa officer found a “mucousy” substance in a McDonalds hamburger he was about to eat [Read the report]. Had he not checked inside the bun before digging in, he would have been in for an unpleasant surprise.
His experience and others serve as a reminder to be sure to check your food before eating. When you walk into a restaurant in uniform, it’s possible a person with a less-than-friendly view of police officers might take note from behind the counter and seize the opportunity to ruin your meal and potentially hurt you.
The Iowa officer’s decision to sue McDonalds over the mucous incident drew considerable response from PoliceOne members. Here’s a sample:
Det. Jeff Fisher with Loveland (CO) PD writes:
I commend Officer Douglas for sticking to his guns and taking McDonalds to court. A few years ago one of our officers (and a good friend of mine) got made while off duty in the drive thru at one of our Burger King's and they put cleaning chemicals in his drink. He was sick for a couple days. The punk who poisoned him got fired and arrested for Assault on a PO and the judge gave him 6 months in the County Jail. My buddy never sued, but I wish he had.
Officer Richard Hageman with Leigh Valley Int’l Airport (PA) PD shares:
I, too, have become very wary when it comes to purchasing my meal at a fast food restaurant. As a 33-year-plus veteran, when ordering take-out from our local establishments, I use my cell phone or a pay phone to place orders in an attempt to hide my identity, thus defeating the caller ID most use. Hopefully, upon my arrival at their business, my number has been forgotten.
Last year I visited a local Chinese take-out and found, upon returning to the station, that I was the recipient of a few black lower forty hairs. I have also had the drive-thru employees at our local BK do their best to hold back smiles and laughter as I was exiting the drive-thru. Rather than become their victim, I threw the entire meal away.
I've now learned to not only "Watch the hands," but to "Watch the face,” as it can happen to any of us — so, be cautious of all!
Officer Franklin Roby with the Nebraska National Guard responds:
Thirty years ago, a similar incident happened to the head of the Detective Bureau at the Fremont (CA) Police Dept., only it involved a pizza from a national chain owned by McDonald’s, so its employees represented the McDonald's corporation. This is no different than when a law enforcement officer puts on his/her uniform; he/she represents not only the agency he works for, but also all law enforcement. McDonald's fired the two, but if McDonald's had screened them prior to employment and then continued to "constructively" evaluate their work performance (to include demeanor), this situation may have been averted. As in any vocation, constant evaluation is required. –
From Officer George LaPenta, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Police, Boston, MA:
This is exactly why I don't go to McDonalds in our town, on or off duty. It's happened to a couple of our officers as well. McDonald’s needs to be held accountable for the actions of their employees.
Det. Kathleen Oros with San Bernardino Co. (CA) SD writes:
Funny, same thing happened in Chino Hills California, and the McDonald’s refused to cooperate! The little loser still has a job after spitting in a co-worker’s drink! DNA has matched this little punk, and the manager still employs him.
Officer Jeremy Waldo with Miles City (MT) PD comments:
This happens all too often to law enforcement officers. On two occasions I have found strands of hair in my food when I have ordered while working. I no longer eat fast food, working or not, because of those two incidents. Lawsuits may not solve the problem, but they will certainly hold those persons accountable for their actions.
From Officer Matthew Creamer, Burlington (MA) PD:
I ordered food from a local McDonalds and was in a rush that I didn’t think to check it or be wary. I ate the food and became very ill. At first, I passed it off as a by-product of their low quality food, but later discovered that someone had put Visine in my drink. No action was taken by McDonald’s.
From Officer Edmond Finizie, North Las Vegas (NV) PD
I was having lunch in a major 'locals' casino in my jurisdiction. The more water I drank, the thirstier I got. Then I saw why my throat was feeling scratchy—finely broken shards of glass in the bottom of the cup, mixed with the ice. Fortunately, I wasn't injured. When I told the waitress, she went 'Oh!' and disappeared. A good 15 minutes later, a security guard wanted me to sign a form for their insurance. No manager; no apology. Did I mention I was in full uniform? Really lets you know where you stand. Today, I would sue. I am much more careful where and what I eat now. If I can't see the food being prepared, I'll only eat it if I know the cook by first name. I've seen too many burgers with suspicious substances and secret sauces over the years. Anyway, I haven't eaten at that casino in 20 years. That'll show 'em.
From Officer Steve Simpson, Orange County (CA) Sheriff
I try to only eat at cop friendly places if I'm going to put in an order in person. Sometimes I bring my own food, or I'll call in an order ahead of time and wait long enough to pick it up that it has already been prepared, or get pre-made sandwiches from 7-11. Clif Bars, Met-Rx bars and bottled juice make good-for-you snacks too.
Have thoughts or a food tampering incident to share?