Continued-setbacks-for-McDonald's Korea
McDonald’s Korea CEO Antoni Martinez poses at its head office in Seoul. The police said that it is investigating the CEO with regard to the suspicion that the fast-food chain used expired hamburger buns. Photo courtesy of McDonald’s Korea

Boycott campaigns has started against fast-food chain

The South Korean unit of McDonald’s continues to face setbacks after the fast-food chain was accused of reusing expired hamburger buns and tortillas for a year.

The minor opposition Justice Party held a press conference on Aug. 19 in Seoul to criticize McDonald’s Korea along with civic groups, including the Arbeit Workers Union (AWU), a trade union of part-time workers.

The police said on Aug. 17 that it is investigating McDonald’s Korea CEO Antoni Martinez related to the suspicion that a McDonald’s restaurant in Seoul reused expired food materials by relabeling since 2020.

The Anti-Corruption & Civil Rights Commission, which received a complaint about the wrongdoing, passed on the case to the police on Aug. 13.

McDonald’s apologized for the misdeeds, promising to strengthen training on the expiration date. It also disciplined a part-time worker and the restaurant’s manager.

But the measures angered the AWU, which started a boycott campaign of McDonald’s products on Aug. 10, requesting the company to revoke punishment on the McDonald’s part-timer.

“This is a fraud against our citizens,” Justice Party deputy chair Bae Jin-gyu told the press conference in front of the McDonald’s Korea head office in downtown Seoul.

“McDonald’s Korea should stop passing the buck to its employees. Instead, it should admit its responsibility … This case should be discussed during the upcoming parliamentary inspection sessions.”

Participants in the conference also talked about the past controversy involving McDonald’s Korea.

In 2017, a mother complained that her 4-year-old daughter suffered from kidney disease after eating a McDonald’s burger. Similar claims surfaced that people developed the hemolytic uremic syndrome, nicknamed the “hamburger disease,” after consuming McDonald’s food.

The probe the case, the prosecution raided the head office of McDonald’s Korea last November.

Early this year, a Seoul court convicted individuals from McKey Korea, a meat supplier that distributed hamburger patties contaminated with E. coli to McDonald’s Korea.

The publisher studied Korean history in Seoul and management of business administration in the United Kingdom. He has 20-year experiences in the media business. Kim can be reached at or 82-2-6956-6698.