Fast-food meal contains prescription medicine

A McDonald's Happy Meal usually comes with a surprise inside, but an Ellicott City woman never expected to find prescription medicine in the meal she ordered for her child.

The woman ordered the meal Wednesday at the drive-through window of the McDonald's at Chatham Road and U.S. 40 in Ellicott City.


After she arrived home, she discovered a brown bag containing white tablets in the Happy Meal container.

The tablets turned out to be Allegra, a prescription medicine for allergies.


She reported the incident to Howard County police, who launched an investigation.

Police said yesterday that they concluded a McDonald's employee was stricken with an allergy attack and called a relative who brought the Allegra to the McDonald's restaurant.

Another employee received the medicine and slipped it into a Happy Meal bag with the intention of delivering it to the ailing employee later that day.

The bag inadvertently got passed along to a customer, police believe.

None of the prescription medicine was ingested by the child, and no police action has been taken.

Sgt. John Superson, a police spokesman, said it was an isolated event that was clearly an accident. He also said the McDonald's corporation is handling the mishap internally.

The Ellicott City McDonald's released a statement yesterday apologizing for the mistake.

"This was an unfortunate, isolated incident," Cathy Bell, owner and operator of the McDonald's, said in the statement. "We apologize for it and have taken the necessary steps to ensure it doesn't happen again."